Monday, April 20, 2009


I've never made Baklava before.  Mamoun's baklava (when I was in New Haven) was the best I'd ever had and I still miss it.  DF had a recipe he'd used before and we gave it a shot, with minor adjustments.  We also cut the recipe down so that it fit in an 8x8 pan, and cut the stack of phyllo in half so we weren't trying to layer a long sheet.  We placed each sheet touching a different side of the pan so that the entire phyllo layer ended up covering the whole space, instead of stacking them all in the middle and none of them touching the sides!

Be careful not to grind the nuts too fine if you're using a food processor (new Cuisinart 14-c. is a dream!).  Next time, I think we're going to go a little bit coarser on the grind so it's not packed in so tight, though this baklava was definitely lighter than any DF had ever made.


Nut Filling

2½ c nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, or a mix of any of the above)

1/3 c white sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Honey Syrup

1 c white sugar

½ c orange blossom honey

½ c water

Juice from ½ lemon, strained

Zest from ¼ lemon

2½ cinnamon sticks

1tbs orange flower water or rose water (different flavour)

Pastry Layers

½ lb Phyllo dough

1 stick unsalted butter


Dishes/Utensils Needed

Small microwave-safe bowl, 8x8 baking dish, Pastry brush, Moist kitchen towel, Medium saucepan, Blender/Food processor, Measuring cups, Measuring spoons, Strainer

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Chop the nuts finely using a blender or food processor.
  3. Add the sugar, and cinnamon to the nuts and process to blend.
  4. Put butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted.
  5. Brush some butter on the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
  6. Open the phyllo box and unroll the dough on the counter. Cut the phyllo in half to fit the baking dish.
  7. Place one half-sheet of phyllo in the baking dish and brush some butter over it. Repeat this process until there are 8 half-sheets laid upon the bottom of the dish.
  8. Sprinkle ½ c nut mixture evenly over the pastry layers. Cover with 4 half-sheets of phyllo, buttering each after placing it in the dish. Repeat this process until there is either no more nut mixture left or you only have 8 half-sheets of phyllo left.
  9. Top the dish with 8 half-sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet as above.
  10. Roll any phyllo extending over the edges inwards onto the top of the baklava.
  11. Score the top few layers of phyllo in diamond or triangle pattern. Brush the top of the dish thoroughly butter.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden, about 45-50 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, place all the honey syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Set aside until baklava is finished baking.
  14. When the pastry comes out of the oven, pour half the honey syrup over the dish very slowly. After letting stand for 20 minutes, pour the remainder of the syrup over the dish, again very slowly. Let cool completely, several hours, then cut along the scores completely through.



·      Phyllo comes in 1 lb. boxes. Athens brand includes two half-pound packages in the box, which is convenient for this recipe.

·      Keep the edges of the pastry buttered if necessary to keep them from drying out as you build it.

·      Work quickly but carefully; phyllo is very delicate and prone to drying out.  Keep the phyllo covered with a damp kitchen towel or paper towel.

·      Two people working together can make building this go much more quickly!


  1. This is the first time we used rose water; usually I use orange blossom water. I think I like it better. It adds a subtle complexity that helps neutralise some of the sweetness. Makes it easier to eat more :D

  2. I love this recipe, but have not been able to find the rose water. Will definitely have to keep searching.