"My recipe for baklava takes a bit of work, but is so worth it."
phyllo pastry dough
( use Athens brand 14x18 or 9x14)
( use Apipharm brand Thyme and Wild Flower)
fresh lemon juice
( use Metaxa brand)
wedge fresh organic lemon rind
wedge fresh organic orange rind
vanilla bean, split lengthwise
coarsley ground walnuts
coarsley ground blanched almond
coarsely ground blanched hazelnuts
freshly grated nutmeg
melted unsalted butter
( unsalted butter only)
THAW 1 lb. 14x18 or 9x14 Athens brand phyllo dough sheets overnight in refrigerator for the PASTRY if frozen (do not thaw in microwave!); BRING thawed phyllo dough to room temperature before using; UNROLL phyllo sheets; (IF USING 14x18 SHEETS: FOLD the stack over lengthwise to crease in center; SNIP through creased stack to form two stacks phyllo to fit into a 13" x 9" baking dish); PLACE stack of thawed phyllo sheets between wide waxed paper; COVER with damp towel to keep phyllo from drying; KEEP phyllo covered while layering the pastry.
PULSE the walnuts, blanched almonds and blanched hazelnuts separately in a food processor until coarsely ground, to yield (2 cups coarsley ground walnuts, 1/2 cup coarsley ground almonds, 1/2 cup coarsely ground hazelnuts); SQUEEZE 1 tablespoon lemon juice from one halved organic lemon, retaining the rind; CUT lemon rind into 1/4 wedge and one organic orange into 1/8 wedge; REMOVE the fruit from the lemon and orange wedges; SNIP one vanilla bean in half lengthwise using kitchen scissors.
BLEND 2 cups Apipharm brand Thyme and Wild Flower Honey, 1 cup superfine sugar and 1 cup purified water in a medium saucepan over medium heat for the SYRUP; BRING mixture to a slow boil, stirring occasionally; ADD 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons Metaxa brandy, the lemon and orange wedges, 3 cinnamon sticks, and the vanilla bean halves; REDUCE heat to medium-low; COOK mixture until mixture thickens slightly, about 15-20 minutes; REMOVE the cinnamon sticks, the lemon and orange peels and vanilla bean; SET aside.
SLOWLY melt 2 sticks (1/2 lb.) butter in a small saucepan over low heat, for the BASTE; REDUCE heat to LOW once melted; BRUSH the bottom and sides of a 13" x 9" baking, using the the melted butter; PLACE oven rack in the center position; PREHEAT oven to 325°F ; COMBINE the following ingredients in a medium bowl: 2 cups coarsley ground walnuts, 1/2 cup coarsley ground blanched almonds, 1/4 cup superfine sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves; POUR 3 tablespoons from the melted butter BASTE over mixture in bowl; MIX thoroughly.
PLACE one phyllo PASTRY sheet into the bottom of buttered baking dish; BRUSH the top of the placed phyllo sheet with the melted butter BASTE; REPEAT process until 15 sheets of phyllo have been placed and basted; SPREAD 1/3 of the FILLING mixture (about 1 cup) evenly into the phyllo-lined baking dish (TUCK down any overlapping phyllo sheets neatly); REPEAT the layering process two more times, this time using 5 sheets phyllo; FINISH process using all remaining phyllo sheets for the top; BRUSH top layer generously with BASTE; TUCK in edges of phyllo so neatly contained.
CAREFULLY slice pastry lengthwise through the top layer of pastry only to score, using a sharp knife, into 6 evenly spaced horizontal columns; SLICE 6 diagonal cuts across horizontal columns through the top layer of pastry only, into diamond shapes for form about 36 pieces; STUD the center of each piece with one whole clove if desired, for the BOUQUET-GARNISH; POUR the remaining BASTE over pastry; MIST top of pastry well with purified water through a spritzer bottle.
BAKE for 1 hour, or until golden-brown in color; ALLOW to cool for 5 minutes; REMOVE the cloves from pastry if desired, or keep them as a decorative garnish (be sure to inform the consumers to remove the clove before eating!).
RUN a knife through cut sections carefully once again, so the SYRUP can penetrate; POUR the SYRUP slowly over hot pastry; ALLOW pastry to set at least 3 hours, uncovered at room temperature (cover after 3 hours; DO NOT refrigerate as this dries out the pastry).
ARRANGE on a serving platter if serving immediately; PLACE individual slices into sealable bags in a cool place (except refrigerator) if saving for later consumption.