Fear of filo no more! This version, an easier rolled baklava recipe, makes this Greek classic dessert doable and delicious.
Baklava, carefully cut into diamond shapes, were always part of any happy occasion in our Sephardic homes of my aunts and uncles. Our Turkish/Rodeseli version were sweetened with thick honey syrup in contrast to the earthy crunch of walnuts, or pecans.
Since I grew up seeing the adept hands of the women in my family fashion filo dough into all sorts of luscious desserts and savory pastries, I was never daunted by using it. It does take time and effort for a novice to master the nuances of the dough. This relatively uncomplicated recipe is a good start.
1 pound fIlo dough, thawed
5 cups unsalted finely ground nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios or a combination
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange peel, optional
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup vegetable oil or melted butter, or a combination
1 1/2 cups honey
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. In a medium bowl, mix ground nuts, sugar, orange peel, if using, cinnamon and allspice. Pour oil into another bowl. Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 325°. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with oil or melted butter. Set aside.
2. Unroll phyllo/filo dough and place on waxed paper included in box. Cover with parchment paper and a moist cloth to help keep the dough flexible.
3. Place one layer of filo on the counter or large cutting board, widest part toward you. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush with oil or melted butter. Place a second layer of filo directly on top of the first and lightly brush with oil or melted butter. Sprinkle 1 cup of the nut/sugar mixture over the sheet in a thin, even layer, leaving a 1 inch margin on the far long side. Top with one additional sheet of filo and brush with oil or melted butter. Starting with the wider side of the dough, carefully roll the filo into a tight cigar. Seal edge with oil or butter. Place the cigar seam-side-down onto the baking pan. Repeat with remaining phyllo and nut mixture, rolls may touch in the pan. You should have 6 rolls. Brush the rolls with any remaining oil or butter.
5. Using a sharp knife, cut rolls crosswise on an angel into 2 inch pieces. It's a good idea to recut to ensure the pieces are cleanly cut.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes to one hour until the top is evenly golden brown. Meanwhile prepare the syrup.
7. In a medium saucepan, combine all syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a strong simmer and cook, uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until mixture thickens to a syrup.
8. Remove baklava from oven and immediately cover in warm syrup. Allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.
Makes 36 pieces Must make ahead
Active time: 30 minutes Total time: 2 1/2 hours