Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The First Recipe - Baklava

Might as well get started. The first recipe that got devoured in the household was Baklava. I ended up making it because someone on Twitter asked for a suggestion for a dessert with a Middle Eastern flare. This was the obvious suggestion. It's actually pretty easy, but a bit labor intensive.


1 lb. (1/2 kg) Chopped Nuts - We used a mix of Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts and Pistachios
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup margarine (if you don't mind it being dairy you can use butter)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
Some lemon zest
1 package Phyllo dough (should be a pound (1/2 kg))

This makes a 9 x 13 pan (22.5 x 32.5cm)

Heat oven to 350 F (175C)
If your nuts aren't already chopped you'll need to do that in a food processor. We did in various stages to get different sized chunks.
Mix in the cinnamon, or maybe try nutmeg.
Unroll the Phyllo and cut in half so it fits easily in the pan.

You'll need to have a damp cloth to cover the dough with when you're not using it, as it dries out quickly and becomes brittle.
Next melt the margarine in a saucepan. You'll also need a pastry brush. We use a silicone one to good effect.

This is when the hard work begins. You need to layer the dough and nuts, which can take about 30 minutes. Start with two leaves of dough and brush with melted margarine, sprinkle a few spoons of nuts over them and spread evenly.

Then put down the next layer of dough. We did two layers at a time, though the recipe calls for one. This made it extra crunchy. Each layer needs to be brushed with the melted margarine. The saucepan had to be reheated a couple times during the process.
Yes, the counter is a mess.
Keep layering it until you've finished the nuts and then add on another 5-6 leaves of dough. Then you need to cut it, which is a bit tricky, I found. Cut into 4 even strips, so three cuts. Then make diagonal cuts to form diamonds.
Ours didn't come out too straight and it's a pain getting to the edges with a Chef's knife, so I'd suggest a smaller paring knife. Then it's into the over for 40-50 minutes. Should be golden crispy. If you let it go too long it will be too crispy and messy to eat. So keep an eye on it.
While it's in we made the syrup. Mixing the sugar and water in a saucepan until it starts to boil, then add vanilla, lemon and finally the honey. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You should try to time this so you're finishing as the baklava is coming out of the oven.

Spoon the hot syrup over the baklava, let cool and then have at it!
As I said, ours came out very crunchy. And messy. Everyone really gobbled it up though. Even my wife, who doesn't particularly like baklava enjoyed it. So, score! Depending how you cut the pieces it should make about 36 servings. Probably a billion calories each.

Total time was about 2 hours from start to finish. About an hour of actual working time, the layering takes a while and you have to stir the syrup. Otherwise it's baking and cooling. I'll try to remember times for future reference. Thanks Phelps.



  1. That sounds incredible. I'm definitely making it. I do Christmas baking every year and that is going on the to do list. My cookie recipients will thank you!

  2. I don't cut the baklava all the way through until after it is baked. It's not like I'm an expert, though!! Your syrup is fancier than mine, too.

  3. A friend of mine bakes the syrup in (very messy, but yummy) mixing it with the nuts & pouring it between each set of layers.

    This also seems similar to another friend's kugel recipe if you swap bowtie past for filo dough and skip the syrup. (I've had kugel as sidedish and as dessert, which do you do?)

    It looks and reads very yummy (thank you for the progress pictures! So many forget that).

  4. Looks amazing! Will definitely have to try it.

    Thanks for sharing it!