Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I came across this photo in my files from last year. I made this Baklava for an Egyptian dinner we held after returning from a 2.5 week tour of Egypt (our second visit there). The Egyptians grow sugar cane as one of their main agricultural exports. Their cuisine is infused with syrupy sweet dishes made of phyllo dough or semolina flour. In other parts of the Middle East, honey is often used, but the Egyptians replace the honey with simple syrup made from boiled granulated sugar. This recipe is more typical of Greek Baklava, because it uses honey along with the simple syrup. It really isn't as difficult to make as you might think, although it does take a little patience and time.
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup honey
16 oz phyllo dough (pre-cut to fit 9 X 13" pan)
1 pound of chopped nuts, lightly toasted (I used walnuts and pecans in this photo)
1 cup salted butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
Boil the sugar and water for 1 minute. Add vanilla and honey, then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the fridge while making Baklava.
Butter the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. Toss the nuts with the cinnamon and set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Many people cover the phyllo dough with a wet cloth while working, but I find that cumbersome. I just work quickly before the dough dries out.
Place 2 sheets of phyllo in pan, and brush thoroughly with butter. Repeat 3 times (until you have 8 sheets layered in the pan). Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two more sheets, buttering each thoroughly and then add another layer of nut mixture. Continue layering nuts and two sheets until the nuts are gone. Top with 6 - 8 layers of just phyllo dough and butter.
Use a sharp knife to cut either square or diamond shapes. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 50 minutes at 350ºF or until it looks golden and crisp.
Spoon cooled sugar sauce immediately over the baked Baklava. Allow it to cool completely before serving. Don't cover the baklava or it will become soggy. Store extra baklava uncovered in the fridge or freeze wrapped in foil.