Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Baklava is one of my most favorite desserts. The sweet honey flavor with the nice bitter toasted phyllo and the mixture of various nuts makes this a classic, and historically a classic as well. I can talk a lot about this so let's jump into the recipe and I'll talk more and tell stories after. One thing I do want to point out is to cut before baking. This is how you get pretty pieces that don't shatter like when you cut after baking. It's a simple step but an important one.
¼ lbs Almonds
¼ lbs Pistachios
½ lbs Walnuts
2 oz Brown Sugar
2 oz Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Clove
8 oz Water
8 oz Granulated Sugar
6 oz Honey
1 ea Lemon Juice, fresh
1 ea Cinnamon Stick
1 lbs Phyllo Dough, thawed
½-1 lbs Unsalted Butter, melted
Finely crushed pistachios for garnish
1. Lightly grease a pan the same size as the phyllo sheets. You can also use multiple pans or cut phyllo and roll with filling to create the log style. (I will say Log Style is more work...)
2. Preheat oven to 350℉.
3. Place nuts for the filling in a food processor with with sugars and spices.
4. Process until nuts are a fine crumb.
5. Remove phyllo dough from package and cover with a damp cloth to keep from drying out.
6. Place a sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the greased pan. Brush with melted butter.
7. Repeat for a total of 8 sheets.
8. Place a thin layer of the nut mixture.
9. Place two more sheets brushed with butter.
10. Repeat nut and phyllo layers with 2-3 sheets in each layer making sure to reserve 8 sheets for the top.
11. Once all sheets are layered, cut baklava into desired shapes.
12. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and edges crisp.
13. While baking, make the syrup by mixing the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 7 minutes to reduce. Leave aside until pastry is baked.
14. When baklava is baked cover with the syrup.
15. Garnish with crushed pistachios if desired.
So you might be wondering why I spelled the title of the article like I did. Years ago in high school, when I was mostly doing cake decoration, my music teacher asked if I could make a birthday cake for Bach's birthday. We couldn't have a class party unless there was a lesson with it so we learned about classical music, listened to a bunch of his work, and then ate cake for his birthday. It was mostly a way to cheat the system and have a relaxing day of class without making the administration angry. Ever since then, whenever I have to say something that sounds similar to Bach my mind goes right to him for the pronunciation. Fast forward to present day me who loves baklava, every time I say it I have to put an emphasis on the BACH. I don't know if I'll ever stop....
As for the actual pastry and it's history, it is a very old dessert from eastern Europe and the middle east. It is very common to see in Mediterranean cuisine. It's hard to know exactly where it came from and what was the original (Most likely stemming from a pastry in Istanbul) but we do know it was layers of pastry, with nuts, and topped with honey. When it comes to the nuts in the filling I have seen walnuts to be the go to. At the end of the day any mixture works. What I have in my recipes is what I like to use. A mixture of 50% walnuts, 25% almonds, and 25% pistachios. I find that it has a nice rounded flavor that is not overly dry or bitter like 100% walnuts. But this filling can be customized based on personal preference or allergies. Have fun making this classic pastry and share new combinations that you like and wish to share!