Baklava recipe is made of thin layers of buttered phyllo sheets layered with walnuts, rolled, and baked until golden. Finally, baklava is drenched in a delicious spiced honey syrup.
Thaw the phyllo dough in the fridge if starting from frozen.
Grind nuts: Pulse walnuts in the food processor or finely chop until fine pieces form.
Make nut mixture: In a medium bowl combine the 2 cups ground walnuts, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of cinnamon until well mixed . Set aside.
Clarify butter: Melt 1 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat skimming off the foam as it rises to the top until bright yellow in color, clear with no milk solids. Regular melted butter can also be used without clarifying it first, but the milk solids in the butter can make the baking of layers uneven.
Combine 2/3 cup water with 1 ¼ cups sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 1/4 cup honey in a small sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove off the heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350F, with the baking rack centered.
Brush the inside of one 9"x13" baking pan with butter, set aside.
Unroll the phyllo dough sheets and set on a clean work surface, short side closest to you.
Butter 1 sheet: Work fast, as the sheets dry out quickly. Using a pastry brush, dip it in the butter, then drizzle whatever the brush picked up all over the phyllo sheet. Brush the butter all over the sheet except for 1-2 inches closest to you.
Add walnuts: add 2-3 tablespoons of walnuts to the buttered sheet in a 2-3 inch thick band in the center or sprinkle evenly over the sheet.
Roll: Set a 1/2 inch dowel on end closest to you and roll the sheet with ground nuts around it. Leave the rolled sheet at the opposite end to yourself.
Butter 2nd sheet & roll: Now butter the second sheet with a light coating of butter and roll it around the dowel with the first sheet once again.
Scrunch it: Place hands on the opposite ends of the roll and push the two ends towards the center, scrunching the roll to about 9 inches to fit inside the prepared pan.
Slide the shaped roll off the dowel into the greased pan.
Each roll should have 1 sheet with nuts, 1 sheet without. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough and nut mixture.
Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining butter.
Trim ends: Make two cuts "trimming" the ruffled sides of the baklava, but do not remove the ruffled tips of the rolls.
Cut into small pieces: Now cut vertically down the center, making two rows. Next, cut each row down the center again, giving you four equal rows.
Bake in a preheated to 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until the tops and bottoms are lightly golden. If the tops get golden too fast, loosely cover with foil until the bottoms are golden as well.
Tip: Baking in a glass or porcelan dish can take longer, than baking in a metal baking dish. Go by the recommended color, not the timing.
Drizzle with syrup - As soon as the baked baklava is out of the oven, pour the syrup over the baklava rolls. Now, leave to cool for 2-3 hours to allow the syrup to be absorbed by the baklava.
Store at room temperature for up to 3-7 days. Or refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Note: to make the rolls larger, roll 2 sheets with nuts and then 2 sheets with plain butter, instead of 1 of each.
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