There are three parts to this recipe: making the syrup, making the nut mixture and assembling the whole thing. The first two can be done ahead of time. Interestingly, the pastry doesn’t get soggy over time, so the flavor and texture actually improve a day or two later!
This dish is dedicated to Samuel and Elizabeth, in celebration of their wedding. Yay!
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup honey (lavender or sage honey work nicely)
- 3/4 cup water, bottled or filtered
- 2 teaspoons rose water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups ground or finely chopped nuts. Suggestions: pistachios, almonds, pecans, cashews. In the past I’ve used 2 parts pistachios to 1 part almonds and 1 part cashews.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 package of filo dough (about 1 pound, or 20 to 24 sheets)
- 2 sticks (1 cup) of melted unsalted butter (skim off the white scum that floats to the top), or melted ghee (already clarified butter)
- Put all of the syrup ingredients in a sauce pan and dissolve over medium low heat. Set aside until ready to assemble (doesn’t need to cool).
- Mix all of the filling ingredients in a bowl. If you’re starting with whole nuts, you can toss all of the filling ingredients together into a food processor and whirl to the desired texture.
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
- Butter a baking dish. I’ve used 10 x 14 inch and 9 x 13 inch glass ovenproof pans which were both fine for the same amount of ingredients.
- Put a sheet in the dish —either fold the excess parts so that only the bottom is covered, or carefully divide the sheet in half to fit it in. With a pastry brush, spread a thin layer of melted butter on top of the entire sheet.
- Repeat the above step for half (about 10 to 12 sheets) of the filo sheets.
- Pour the nut filling over evenly.
- Apply the rest of the filo sheets, again with butter between them. Make sure that the butter remains a smooth liquid; just zap it in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds to remelt.
- Spread a thin layer of butter on top of the last sheet.
- With a knife, cut the baklava into pieces. For example, cut diagonals in one direction (\\\\\), followed by several straight cuts (|||||). You don’t have to cut all the way through to the bottom at this point, though.
- Bake for 60 minutes at 350F degrees, then raise the temperature to 400F degrees, and bake for another 15 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove the hot baklava from the oven, and pour the syrup over it evenly It’ll make a nice crackling sound. To make the syrup reach the bottom, carefully cut down along the scoring; this will also ease serving later on.
- Cool at least an hour before serving. Keeps well for several days at room temperature, longer if refridgerated.