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Category: Desserts

Edon Waycott's baklava

Lots of foods are good. Only one is the product of nature aiming for irresistibility. Honey is food as seduction, nourishment and variety. There are, quite simply, almost as many types of honey as there are flowers. Put bees on ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes plus overnight standing | Makes about 22 pieces
Note: Panko is Japanese bread crumbs, available in Asian food sections . Look for fresh filo leaves in the refrigerator section of Middle Eastern markets.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and clarified, plus 1 tablespoon unmelted butter
  • 3 cups finely ground walnuts, almonds or a combination of both
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound filo leaves, fresh or thawed overnight in refrigerator
  • 1 1/4 cups panko crumbs
  • 3/4 cup water, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup orange blossom honey

Step 1To clarify butter, melt slowly in a saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Then tilt pan to skim off foam; discard. Spoon butter into a small bowl, discarding the milky residue.

Step 2Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with the tablespoon of unmelted butter. Mix the finely ground nuts and cinnamon in a bowl.

Step 3Do not open the package of filo until it is completely thawed and ready to use. When it is opened and the leaves unfolded, invert a 9-by-13-inch baking pan on the leaves to use as a guide. Cut around pan through stack with a sharp knife. Immediately cover with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. Use any trimmings, dry and crumbled, in place of some of the bread crumbs.

Step 4Carefully peel the first leaf from stack and place it on bottom of buttered pan. With a brush dipped in melted butter, splatter the leaf, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat with 7 more leaves. The next layers will contain nut mixture and no bread crumbs: Sprinkle the 8th leaf with butter and cover with one-third of nut mixture. Add 3 more buttered leaves and cover with another third of nuts. Build another nut layer by adding 3 more buttered leaves and remaining nuts. Repeat initial stack of 8 buttered leaves sprinkled with bread crumbs. The last leaf has no crumbs. With buttered brush, push edges of all leaves down side of pan to make a neat, rounded trim.

Step 5Cut the pastry into diamonds by lightly marking the top leaf with parallel lines, 1 1/2 inches apart, lengthwise. Make a diagonal mark from one corner to the other, and lay out parallel lines 1 1/2 inches apart. Make deep cuts with a sharp knife all the way through the pastry, following the lines. Sprinkle the top leaf heavily with one-fourth cup of the water or mist with a spray bottle.

Step 6Bake the baklava in the center of a 350-degree oven until it rises slightly and has a rich golden color, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Step 7While the baklava is baking, make a syrup by combining sugar, the remaining one-half cup water, and corn syrup in saucepan and bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey. Allow to cool. The syrup should be warm, not hot, to pour over pastry when it comes from the oven.

Step 8When the baklava is done, remove it from the oven and pour the syrup slowly over it. Allow baklava to mature overnight so syrup permeates all leaves and flavor peaks. Baklava may be stored in a covered container at room temperature for four to five weeks. Wrapped securely in foil or plastic, baked or unbaked, baklava can be frozen. Place frozen and unbaked baklava directly into a 350-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for an additional hour, or until pastry is puffed and golden.

Each serving:
377 calories; 5 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 24 mg. cholesterol; 23 mg. sodium.
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