Timeless. That's the only way to describe a perfect baklava. Try using real Greek pistachios and honey in this classic. You can find them on my online store here.
- 1 pound/500 g. very good quality unsalted butter preferably sheep’s-milk butter
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil
- 10 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or blanched almonds or a mixture of both
- 3 cups zwieback or other unsweetened biscuit crumbs such as Greek frigania or Melba toasts
- 2 pounds/1 kilo commercial phyllo
- Whole cloves optional
- For the Syrup
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
- 1. Clarify butter: Place butter in a small saucepan and heat slowly over low heat. Remove pan from heat and cool for 2 to 3 minutes. With a spoon, skim the milky foam from the top of the butter and discard foam. Pour the remaining clarified butter in a bowl, combine with the olive oil and set aside until ready to use.
- 2. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C. Lightly butter a 15X18X3-inch/38X45X8-cm baking pan.
- 3. In a large bowl, combine nuts and zwieback. Add ¼ to 1/3 cup clarified butter and the olive oil to the mixture – enough to moisten it.
- 4. Layer 6 phyllo sheets on bottom of prepared baking pan, one at a time, brushing each one generously with butter. Sprinkle about a third of the nut mixture over the sixth phyllo sheet and spread it evenly. Drizzle 1 to 2 teaspoons more butter over nuts.
- 5. Layer 4 phyllo sheets over the nuts, one at a time, buttering each generously. Spread another third of the nut mixture on top and drizzle, as before, with a teaspoon or two of butter. Layer and butter another 4 phyllo sheets, top with remaining nut mixture, and drizzle with clarified butter. Top the pan with 5 to 6 sheets of phyllo, each brushed generously with butter. With the tips of your fingers, sprinkle the top phyllo with a little water, and brush again. Score into diamond shapes, first cutting gently with a sharp knife vertically, then horizontally, making sure the knife cuts all the way down through the very bottom phyllo. Press a whole clove into each piece of baklava, if desired, before baking to make the tray more decorative.
- 6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the phyllo begins to crisp – and brown slightly. Reduce heat to 325˚F/165˚C and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until baklava is golden brown. Five minutes before removing baking pan from oven, brush baklava with one more ample dousing of butter.
- 7. To prepare syrup: While baklava is baking, in a large saucepan combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes, until syrup is heavy and lusciously thick. Remove pot from heat and immediately stir in lemon juice.
- Baklava, the classic nut-and-spice layered filo dessert, is never absent from a Greek Christmas.
- Remove baking pan from oven and pour hot syrup over the baklava. Place the baklava back in the oven – which has been turned off but is still hot – and let stand until all the syrup is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Serve baklava warm or at room temperature and store at room temperature, sealed in a tin.