I’ve noticed that non-professional cooks tend to shy away from making dishes that use phyllo dough, such as baklava.
Granted, the first time or two may be a bit frustrating, but you will get the hang of it. Just be sure to keep the sheets covered and remember that the dough is very forgiving. The sheets may tear, but just lay them where they belong and brush with butter.
I actually find the process relaxing and very satisfying. Once baked, it is virtually impossible to see the mistakes. Some folks prefer to use pistachio nuts rather than walnuts, and either nut will give you a terrific pastry. Adding a bit of rose water to the sugar syrup after it is done is an interesting addition; it’s strong, so just a teaspoon will do it.
Ingredients (Makes 36 Pieces)
- Butter for the pan
- 1 16-ounce package phyllo dough
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup butter, melted
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 cup honey
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13-inch pan. Place the sheets of phyllo on your work surface and cover with a slightly damp dishtowel or paper towels.
- In a large bowl combine the nuts, ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and nutmeg. Toss to combine.
- Place two sheets of dough in pan; butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6-8 sheets deep.
- Using a sharp knife, cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows, then make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
- In a medium saucepan bring the water, sugar and orange juice to a boil and simmer gently for 3-6 minutes until the sugar is melted. Add honey and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered, as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.