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Baklava 101, A Supplement Course to Angelina’s Greek Grandmother 101

May 9, 2007

First take a pound of walnuts and chop them in your food processor, not too fine and not too chunky. Put the chopped walnuts in a bowl and mix in one teaspoon of cinnamon. Next, melt one cup of butter and get your pastry brush handy.

Take one package of filo (or phyllo) dough, lay the layers flat and cut it in half.

You should end up with two stacks of rectangles, roughly the size of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. (See, those baking dishes were made specifically for baklava. I bet you didn’t know that did you?) Put one stack on top of the other, so you just have one stack of rectangles and cover that with a damp towel so that your filo doesn’t dry out.
Now, take two sheets of filo, place them in the bottom of the pan and brush butter over the surface of the top sheet of filo. Repeat this step three more times until you have eight sheets of filo. Next, sprinke 2-3 tablespoons of walnuts evenly over the top of the filo.
Top this with two more sheets of filo and brush butter over the surface of the filo. Repeat the nuts, two sheets of filo and butter until you run out of nuts. After you run out of nuts, place two sheets of filo, butter it, place two more sheets of filo, butter, etc. until you have a total of eight sheets (exactly like the first layer of filo we first layed on the bottom of the pan). At this point, if you have left-over butter and filo, feel free to add as many filo/butter layers as you want, but you need at least that first eight.
Cut the baklava into little diamonds (or big ones if you really love baklava and don’t want to appear piggish by having seconds).

Place the pan into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes. It should be a beautiful golden color when you take it out. About halfway through the baking time put one cup of water and one cup of granulated sugar into a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. After the sugar dissolves, add half a cup of honey. Let this syrup simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir one teaspoon of rosewater into it; you may also use orange water for this, but don’t use vanilla or other flavorings unless you want to incur the wrath of all Greek grandmothers upon your family line. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately (but slowly so it soaks into every nook and cranny) pour the syrup onto the hot baklava.
Serve warm or at room temperature. You may want to run a knife through your original cuts to verify that they are indeed cut all the way so that you don’t separate your tasty nut layers.

Don’t attempt to use margarine in place of the butter. Your baklava will be a dismal failure. Don’t skimp on the butter either, your filo will end up with an unsatisfying texture. If you are watching your weight and fat or calorie intake, you shouldn’t be eating baklava; eat an apple instead.

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