This recipe for exceptionally light and flaky baklava comes from Paige Poulos's friend Sophie Davos. Prep and Cook Time: about 1 3/4 hours. Notes: If the filo dough is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator for at least a day before using; if you rush this step, the filo may crumble. You can make the baklava up to 1 week ahead; cover and store at room temperature.
1 cup sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pound filo dough (see notes)
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and skimmed of white foam, for brushing filo
Whole cloves (optional)
Spiced syrup (recipe follows)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 325°.
In a blender or food processor, whirl 1/2 cup sugar with the almonds and walnuts just until finely ground (don't overprocess or mixture may turn into nut butter). Pour into a bowl and stir in remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
Unroll filo dough and cover with plastic wrap. Keep filo covered as you work so it doesn't dry out.
Brush bottom and sides of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with melted butter. Line pan with 1 sheet of filo (it can extend over pan sides). One at a time, layer 7 more sheets over the first, gathering each to fit into pan and lightly brushing each with butter.
Sprinkle a fourth of the nut mixture over buttered filo in pan. Lay another sheet of filo on top, gathering it to fit into pan and brushing with butter. Repeat layering of nut mixture with filo sheets and butter until all nut mixture is used.
Layer all but one of the remaining filo sheets on top, gathering each to fit pan and brushing with butter. Lay the last sheet flat on top and brush with butter. Trim to fit pan.
With a sharp knife, cut a 2-inch diamond pattern about 1/4 inch deep. If desired, cut a small hole in the center of each diamond and insert a clove to anchor layers. Bake until top is golden and crisp and edges pull away from pan sides, 45 to 55 minutes. Set pan on a rack.
Slice along cuts, almost (but not completely) to bottom. Pour spiced syrup over baklava. Let stand to absorb most of the syrup, at least 3 hours. Cut through bottom layer and serve.
Spiced syrup: In a medium pan, mix 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 in. long). Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to about 1 3/4 cups and has the texture of light syrup, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally, 15 to 25 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
I made this baklava for a middle eastern themed potluck and it was well received. I liked it too, but I had issues with the cooking instructions. The baklava became golden brown at 30 minutes in my convection oven. Also, my end product did not look like the tall baklava piece in the photo, but rather flat looking. Additionally, my pkg of filo had 24-28 sheets which meant the proportions for layering would be different. I ended up layering only 3 times and not the 4 described in the recipe. It seems my baklava would have been taller if I was able to plan ahead and set aside at least 8 sheets for the top. Overall, the taste is good and I would make this recipe again.
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