If I had known how easy it was to make baklava, I would have made it a long time ago. I often dream of the baklava that we ate in Turkey over 10 years ago. Men would sell boxes out of the trunks of their cars, and it was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. It just tasted so fresh! And we bought it out of the trunk of a car!
It occurred to me to look for a baklava recipe when I was planning a wedding anniversary dinner for me and Michael and Marc and Jen (no, the four of us aren't married; our anniversaries are a day apart). What else could follow a dinner of hummus, tabouleh, olives, roasted cauliflower, feta and pita? When I found a recipe on All Recipes with five stars and over a thousand reviews, I knew I was onto something.
The recipe I've posted here captures the way we made it, thanks to a lot of different tips gleaned from the recipe reviews. I wanted to record our method so we can recreate it in the future, and of course I want you to make it too.
Adapted from All Recipes
1 pound pecans (you can also use walnuts and/or pistachios)
1 C butter, melted
1 t cinnamon
1.5 C water
1.5 C white sugar
1.5 t vanilla
3/4 C honey
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and buttering the bottoms and sides of a 9 x 13 inch pan.
To make the syrup, boil sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and honey and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
To prepare the pecans, toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, chop and toss with cinnamon.
To prepare the phyllo pastry, cut the whole stack in half (one sheet should be the same size as the pan), and cover with a dampened cloth to keep it from drying out as you assemble the layers.
Place 2 sheets of phyllo in the prepared pan and use a pastry brush to butter the top sheet thoroughly (no need to drench the pastry though). Repeat four times until you have 8 sheets layered.
Sprinkle approximately 5 T of pecans over the pastry. Top the pecans with two sheets of phyllo and butter as you did the previous sheets. Repeat until you run out of pecans, but make sure you reserve 6-8 sheets of phyllo for the top layers, which you prepare in the same way as the bottom layers.
Using a sharp knife, slice the baklava into individual pieces, but try to avoid cutting through to the very bottom of the pan (this will prevent soggy pastry).
Bake for about 50 minutes until the top is golden and crisp.
Remove baklava from the oven and spoon sauce over it. You can let it cool, but I doubt you will.
You made baklava!