Bakla om nom nom

Since I quit WoW I’ve been playing uhm… more WoW.  Just in real life!  No, I’m not larping (yet), I play the WoW TCG.  It’s also been a great way to have a reason to bake more.  I’ve been taking orders on what to make and one of the guys requested baklava.

I’ve only had baklava like, maybe twice and it was the cheap stuff you get from Walmart.  It never really hit my fancy so I was a bit bummed that someone asked me to make it.

Oh well though, maybe homemade versions are better?

Food Network was of course my go to for a recipe like this and I was surprised at just how many chefs had recipes for it.  Emeril and Guy and a bunch of people I’ve never heard of and then I spotted the greek guy, Michael Symon.  At least I think he’s greek, he looks European hairy.

The recipe calls for a pound of nuts, walnuts and pistachios, both of which I hate.  I switched it up with pecans and almonds and it paid off in dividends (learned that work from Monopoly).

I opt’d for cutting it into squares rather than the diagonal diamonds (because my pan is ya know, a rectangle) and it was just easier to do that way.

The honey-lemon sauce that goes on the baklava smells scrum-diddly-umptious as well and I highly recommend this.  It’s messy to eat but soooooooo good.

Couple of points:

1.  Maybe it has to do with the way it’s cut, no idea, but the amount of syrup it makes is a bit much.  You could probably cut it down to 2/3rds of the amount or possibly even half (let me know if you halve it).

2.  If you accidentally get a lemon seed into the honey syrup that’s okay.  After you are done cooking it becomes clear again and they are easy to fish out.

3.  Serve and eat at room temperature or you won’t be able to pry it out of the pan.

Recipe:  Courtesy Michael Symon @ Food Network

For the Baklava:

  • 1 pound pistachios and/or walnuts, coarsely ground, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1 cup ground zwieback crackers or breadcrumbs
    • They look like those lil’ brown toast pieces in chex mix.
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough (thawed, if frozen), cut in half
    • The phyllo I bought at Walmart was already the right size and took 1 box.

For the Syrup:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 6-to-8-ounce jar honey
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Combine the nuts, cinnamon and ground crackers in a bowl (Editor’s Note:  If for some silly reason you forget to put the cinnamon in, you can add it to the honey mixture and be fine.  You can also add some to the syrup anyway for that bonus cinnamon flavor.)

Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some of the butter. Layer 10 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing each piece with butter before adding the next (keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel (I found it easier to work with if I didn’t cover it with a damp towel)). Sprinkle a quarter of the nut mixture over the dough. Layer 4 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next; sprinkle with another quarter of the nut mixture. Add 4 more phyllo pieces on top, brushing each with butter, then add another quarter of the nut mixture, 4 more pieces of phyllo with butter, and the remaining nuts.

Layer the remaining 10 pieces of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing each with butter; brush the top piece with extra butter. Cut into the baklava to make strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal slices, about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create a diamond pattern. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: Bring the sugar, honey and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 2 more minutes, then let cool slightly.

Pour the syrup over the warm baklava; let soak, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Garnish with nuts.

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