Middle Eastern Nut-Filled Multilayered Pastry (Baklava


Baklava (from the Farsi for “many leaves”), a pastry perfected by royal bakers in the sultan’s palace in Istanbul, consists of layers of phyllo filled with nuts and spices and drenched in a syrup. It has become a traditional Middle Eastern Rosh Hashanah and Purim treat but is enjoyed at celebration throughout the year. There are numerous variations of baklava, many a closely guarded secret passed down within families. A walnut filling is more prevalent in the Levant, while pistachios and pistachio-almond filling are preferred in Iran. Blanched almonds are traditional on Rosh Hashanah to produce a light color so that the year should be dulce y aclarada (“sweet and bright”). Sephardim refrain from serving dark-colored pastries such as those made from walnuts on Rosh Hashanah, which would portend a dark year. Although purist disdain anything except the classic nut filling, some cooks innovated by adding such items as dates and chocolate chips. Hungarians make an apricot version. This very rich treat is usually served in small portion.
Ingredients: Yield 50

Syrup: 5 ½ cups granulated sugar 4 cups water 2 ½ cups honey 3 fl.oz lemon juice 3 fl.oz corn syrup 6 sticks cinnamon 15 whole cloves 1 tbsp ground cardamom 1. To make the syrup: Stir the sugar, water, honey, lemon juice, corn syrup, cinnamon sticks, and cloves over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook the mixture until is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes (225F). Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Let cool. Filling: 3 # blanched almonds and walnuts combination, finely chopped or coarsely ground ½ cup granulated sugar 1 # unsalted butter chill and chopped in medium cubes 2 tbsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground cardamom ½ tsp ground cloves To make the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. 3 # phyllo dough About 1 # melted butter with ¼ cup vegetable oil + a pastry brush Preheat conventional oven at 350 F. 2. Brush you tray well with melted butter using the pastry brush. Place 1 sheet of phyllo in a ½ sheet pan and lightly brush with butter (total 8 sheets per layer). Repeat with 7 more sheets. Spread with half of the filling. Top with 8 more sheets per layer (total 16), brushing each with butter. Use any torn sheets in the middle layer. Spread with the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 8 Crush ½ tsp saffron threads and let steep in ¼ cup of the melted butter for 15 minutes and use to brush the top sheet of phyllo. Now you need to cut the baklava and decorate. Take you knife and cut vertical straight lines all the way to the bottom. (Approx. 2cm apart) then spin the tray and cut more lines but diagonally to form diamond shapes. When you've cut the shapes, push a pine nut into each shape. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce to 300 F and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool at room temperature. Cover and store at room temperature.