VENUE: Cara’s apartment for baking; then Phoebe’s parents’ for eating
My sister Kate and I met up in Spain in December because she was studying abroad in Turkey and Madrid is actually about halfway between Ankara and New York (as the plane flies). She arrived with a sticky cardboard box of baklava that her favorite baklava vendor had made specially for me, with walnuts instead of pistachios.
Makes about 4 dozen pieces
Making baklava is an unusual process. You assemble and bake relatively austere rolls of phyllo, butter, and walnuts. When you take them out of the oven, you pour a scented, sweet syrup all over the rolls and let them sit for a full 24 hours. Don’t overlook that: A FULL 24 HOURS. This is good, because it means you can make the sweets long before you need them, but bad, because there’s no instant gratification in baklava. Plan accordingly.
1 package phyllo dough
4 cups wanluts
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2-1 cup butter, melted
For the syrup:
2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 small piece lemon peels
1 cinnamon stick
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Chop the walnuts into small pieces. Combine with the 6 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Put the melted butter in a bowl and bring over a cooking brush.
Unroll the phyllo dough on a board or table. Cover its entire surface with a moistened paper towel. Pick up two sheets. Lay them in front of you and brush with melted butter. Repeat twice (so you have 6 sheets), being especially generous with the butter on top. Now, take 1 cup of the walnuts and spread them evenly over the pile of sheets, leave 1 inch at every edge. Fold in the vertical edges, then loosely roll the whole thing. Set 9 x 13″ baking pan (must have 2-3″ sides), seam side down.
While the baklava are baking, put all the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil slowly, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. When the baklava comes out of the oven, immediately removed the lemon peel, cinnamon stick, and cloves (if you can get them), and pour the syrup over the baklava.
Taking a roll at a time, slice into portions about 1 inch thick. If the inside is still dry, you may want to arrange them back in the syrup to juice up.