My aunt Carlene is one of those natural born bakers. While I struggle to make a halfway decent cupcake or an unoffensive cookie, her baked goods always come out looking and tasting magazine-quality perfect. Seriously, when she hands me a tin of her homemade treats every Christmas, it feels like a prize.
That’s why I turned to her to help me come up with something delicious for Eat My Blog 4.0. When she suggested baklava, I was a little nervous because it looks hard, but it turned out to be easy and—dare I say—fun. Plus, baklava is one of those desserts that’s ridiculously tasty, visually stunning and just exotic enough to trick people into thinking I have enviable culinary skills. And that’s the kind of deception I’m all about.
This recipe was so simple that I think it will be my go-to this holiday season, and it might as well be yours, too. I mean, just picture yourself unveiling a plate of these flaky, golden masterpieces at a holiday party or an office potluck.
You’re going to be so popular.
Here’s what you need:
Pastry and Filling:
1 lb. filo dough (thawed for about 2 hours)
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (we used walnuts and pecans)
2 1/2 tbs. sugar
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. rosewater (check an Indian store, but if you can’t find it, don’t sweat it)
Here’s how to do it:
Preheat oven to 350.
Step 1. Prepare the filling
Mix finely chopped nuts with 2 1/2 tbs of sugar. Set aside.
Step 2. Prepare the syrup
In a small saucepan, dissolve sugar into water and lemon juice. Simmer until it thickens enough to coat a spoon. Now, add your rosewater and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Put it in the fridge to cool.
Step 3. Build your baklava
First, lay out half of the pastry dough onto a damp dish towel (this will keep it from drying out and cracking). Then, using a basting brush, paint the sides of a large baking dish (13 x 9 is ideal) with a coat of melted butter.
Take two sheets of the dough (be gentle), and lay them into the dish. Brush the layer with butter, making sure to push down the edges. Repeat until you’ve used up your dough.
After you’ve buttered the last layer, spread the nut mixture evenly on top.
Now, cover the nutty layer with the other half of the philo dough, using the process you used for the bottom layers.
Step 4. Slice it up
Cut through the entire layer diagonally to create fancy lozenge shapes.
Step 5. Bake it
Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is puffed up and golden brown.
Step 6. Finish your masterpiece
Take it out of the oven, and while it’s still hot, pour the cold syrup over it. There will be bubbling.
There you have it. All you have to do now is eat a piping hot piece of baklava while the rest cools.
If you want to sample some before you actually make it, come to the Eat My Blog blogger-hosted bake sale (see previous post for details) this Saturday at Pita Jungle in Pasadena.