This is one of those recipes I only make once a year...around the holidays. It's so incredibly rich and buttery and gooey and just YUMMO. My recipe is TONS better than what they serve at our local Greek restaurants (but don't tell them that).
1Here are some tips for working with Phyllo dough:
1. Thaw completely in its packaging.
2. Remove from packaging and place on counter or cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap.
3. Keep dough covered with BOTH plastic wrap and damp towel.
4. Only take out what you need for one step of recipe. Leave rest covered. You may need to trim it to fit in your 9x13 pan...if so, do it now, all at once, with a sharp knife. Take off 6 sheets and wrap them in plastic wrap. Save these out (these are for the top).
2Grind nuts so that you end up with 3 cups worth. I like to use a combo of pecans and walnuts. You can use most types of nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts)...or a combo of them.
3In bowl, mix ground nuts with 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside. This is your filling.
4Melt butter in separate bowl.
5Now comes the fun part...assembly. Don't worry, it's not difficult...it's just time-consuming.
6Preheat oven to 350 dF.
7In 9x13 baking pan/dish, brush bottom generously with some melted butter. Lay down 3-4 sheets of Phyllo dough on now-buttered bottom of pan.
8The rest is a "rinse and repeat" set of steps. Keep doing the following steps until pan is full.
A. Using CLEAN pastry/basting brush, brush Phyllo dough in pan GENEROUSLY with butter, to edges.
B. Sprinkle nut mixture thinly and evenly to cover buttered Phyllo layer to edges.
C. Place 2 layers of Phyllo dough over nut layer.
Repeat steps A-C over and over.
9When pan is full, stop layering and leave the nut layer exposed (no Phyllo on top...yet). "Why do you do it this way, Torrey??" I've found that if you put the Phyllo on top then bake it for the hour or so...it tends to curl up and get all weird. This prevents that from happening.
10Bake in oven for 45 min- 1 hour until browned.
11While baklava is baking...make the syrup by combining all syrup ingredients in heavy saucepan and bringing to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 min. then, remove from heat and strain into clean bowl and set aside to cool.
12Remember those 6 sheets of Phyllo you reserved? We'll use them now.
13Remove baklava pan from oven. Place 2 sheets of Phyllo dough over baklava. Brush GENEROUSLY with melted butter. Place 2 more sheets of dough on this layer. Brush GENEROUSLY with melted butter. Place last 2 sheets of dough on top and (you guessed it) brush GENEROUSLY with melted butter.
14Using sharp knife, cut Baklava into 5 equal rows. Then cut through rows slightly on diagonal to form diamond shapes. CUT CLEAR TO BOTTOM OF PAN THROUGH ALL LAYERS.
15Return baklava to oven and bake until Phyllo dough on top is golden brown.
16Remove finished baklava from oven, and immediately pour cooled syrup over ENTIRE baklava.
17Let cool and serve. I put individual pieces in muffin papers to serve. This stuff is best a day or so later. Store in airtight container at room temp for about a week...but it won't last.