Prep 1 hr
Cook 1 hr
Don’t let the complex instruction fool you… it IS simple, it’s just hard to find detailed directions. It’s really not a “science” like baking and pastry is, so fee free to play around a little! The important part is that you have everything prepared before you start to assemble with the dough, it can be finicky, but totally do-able! My mother in law is a purist and makes Baklava with only walnuts, sugar, and Karo syrup (and dough of course!). I wanted to experiment with a more complex palate and this is what I came up with! From researching recipes, it looks like Baklava is holy to some people: “ONLY butter!”, “ONLY rosewater!”, “ONLY walnuts/pistachios/etc.!” – Ummm… calm down. It’s ONLY a dessert! This is a recipe that I made by combining what looked best to me and what felt right at the time. It came out WONDERFULLY so I wanted to let you know what I did…
- 1 cup sugar
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup pomegranate syrup (juice is okay too)
- 1⁄4 cup fresh orange juice (no pulp)
- 1 orange, zest of
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup honey
- 1⁄4 cup water (reserve)
- 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough, thawed per package instructions
- 1 cup butter, that has been clarified (See below)
- 10 ounces roasted & salted pistachios (or plain)
- 2 ounces pecans
- 4 ounces almonds
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 dash ground cloves
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- SYRUP: On Med-High heat add Sugar, 1/4 Cup of Water, Pomegranate syrup, orange juice, zest, and cinnamon stick in to a high sided sauce pan. Dissolve sugar and bring to light boil.
- Immediately add Honey and reduce to simmer (on low, or low-medium) for 10-20min. It will bubble up, but keep an eye on it. It should not get out of control if the fire isn’t too high. Better a lower heat than a higher heat.
- Remove from heat, as in turn burner off and remove from burner too.
- Drip a few drops of syrup on counter/plate as it cooks and after it is removed from the heat. If it hardens when it cools (think REALLY sticky caramel), add reserved water until drops tests shows syrup can cool and be easily spread on the plate. Do NOT return to the heat before you add water!
- If the syrup then gets too watery, put it back and the stove until it’s right!
- Strain into bowl – set aside to cool before pouring onto hot baklava.
- Note: By using honey you get the best flavor, but also the added benefit of stabilization – this syrup is hard to mess up unless you burn it! If you own a candy thermometer, try to keep it under the “thead” stage, or 230F – if you go over, thin it out with water AFTER you remove it from the heat.
- BUTTER: Clarify butter over low to med-low heat until all water has boiled away.
- Remove from heat and skim off milk solids. Set aside.
- You may “brown” butter slightly for added flavor (I do).
- Melt shortening if you run out of butter towards the end of the assembly process. The point is to dry the butter out (because it is 8% water), but shortening has far less to start – it won’t kill anything to use butter flavored shorting either, it’s a matter of opinion. Remember: Butter = better flavor. Shortening = better texture.
- FILLING: Pulse all Filling ingredients in food processor until largest pieces are no bigger than a pea – but not until all is powder.
- ASSEMBLY: Heat oven to 400°F.
- Prepare your pan (9x13 is great) with either parchment paper and/ butter or spray.
- Unwrap Phyllo and cut to the size of your pan (this makes it WAY easier!).
- Layer 10 sheets of Phyllo in this order: Butter, Phyllo, butter, Phyllo, butter, etc.
- Add 1/3 of nuts, another 6 layers of Phyllo then butter.
- Add 1/3 of nuts, another 6 layers of Phyllo then butter.
- Add 1/3 of nuts, then the last 8 layers of layers of Phyllo then remaining butter.
- I like to spoon on the butter first and then spread it with the brush, always working from the inside out. If a sheet breaks, just patch it up. If the Phyllo is too small, overlap another piece to form one layer – no stress!
- Cut baklava into pieces using a slim, sharp, smooth edged knife (e.g. boning or paring knife).
- In my 9”x13” I get 48 pieces by cutting the pan in 4 pieces lengthwise, then 6 pieces widthwise, then each square diagonally. Make sure to cut with a pulling motion in order to cut smoothly (no STABBING), this may mean stopping to turn the pan around.
- Bake in 400F degree oven for 15min, reduce heat to 300F and bake for another 40-55min, checking to make sure it only turns a pale brown.
- IMMEDIATELY after removing baklava from oven - while baklava is hot- ladle the syrup over the top. It will sputter but that is a good thing. Make sure to get in between all of the crevices and cuts.
- Let Baklava cool at least until room temperature before serving. Better yet, after it is room temperature (2-3 hours) cover it (yes, cover) and let it sit until you can’t wait any longer (at least 8hrs)… serve!
- Store in air tight (yes, covered) container for up to 5 days. Some people think that covering it will make it go soggy. The truth is that air carries moisture and the longer something sits out in the air, the more moisture it attracts – especially SWEETS because sugar and honey absorbed tons of moisture. The less air is sees, the better – until service that is!
Absolutely loved making this recipe! Not that I'm a big baklava fan or enjoy making what at first glance appears to be a difficult recipe, but because I enjoy working in the kitchen & I like satisfying my sweet tooth, AND I certainly don't mind taking something like this (as I did) to share at a neighborhood potluck! Really, really appreciated the orange/pomegranate flavor combo & it was so satisfying to watch as this wonderful dessert came together so well! Many thanks for sharing this recipe! [Made & reviewed for one of my adoptees in this Spring's round of Pick A Chef]