Advent Calendar Cookbook—Day 19: Baklava
Recipe submitted by Migena Rrapushaj, Access and Collections Specialist
“We always make baklava for big holidays. This recipe can be fairly easy if you opt out handmaking the dough and just buy some phyllo pastry sheets.”
- 16 oz phyllo pastry sheets.
- 1 ½ to 2 sticks of melted butter.
- 3 to 4 cups finely crushed walnuts, more if needed.
- 1 cup water.
- 1 cup sugar.
- Squeeze of lemon juice.
- ¼ to ½ cup honey (optional).
- Dash of cinnamon or cinnamon stick (optional).
- Defrost the pastry sheets according to the directions.
- Once the pastry sheets are ready to be used, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the filling by melting the butter in a pan and crushing the walnuts. You can crumble them either in a food processor, or the way I’ve done it growing up while helping my mom cook: put them in a Ziploc bag and use a meat hammer. But I go for the food processor nowadays.
All that is left to do is assemble into a rectangular baking pan. Grease the pan with some butter and then start layering the phyllo sheets. Brush each individual pastry sheet with butter, and sprinkle some of the walnut crumble on top, and layer with another pastry sheet until you’re all out.
Afterwards, brush some more butter on top and cut into the baklava lengthwise, about 3 or 4 strips depending on the size of your pan or how big you want the pieces to be, and then cut diagonally to create diamond shapes. This is the most traditional way to cut baklava, but if desired you could even cut them into cubes.
Afterwards, bake in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the top becomes lightly golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, assemble ingredients for the syrup. Heat up the sugar, water, and a squeeze of lemon juice until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 to 8 minutes. You could also add some honey and cinnamon to the syrup! Allow this syrup to cool before pouring on top of the baklava.
Once the baklava is done baking pour the syrup on top evenly, cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil, and let the baklava rest overnight to truly soak up all the syrup. “As much as I’ve tried to sneak a piece of baklava from my mom in the past, this part is nonnegotiable, it’s a crucial step so plan accordingly if you want to make this dessert!”
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