“Baklava is not a first-time baker’s recipe.”
Uh-oh. We’ve never even tried real baking before! How in the world are we supposed to pull this off?
I read the rest of the article and check out several recipes. It doesn’t seem like such an impossible task–if we manage to get our hands on some phyllo dough, that is. Groceries here are hopelessly inadequate.
I try my luck online and find out from one of my mom’s former colleagues that it’s probably available at La Vetta, a restaurant/gourmet shop in Cagayan de Oro. Alright, I now know where to score phyllo dough.
Next problem: How do I teleport to Cagayan de Oro and back?
My phone rings. It’s my friend, Bea. She offers to buy some phyllo dough as well as some mixed nuts for me. Huzzah!
A few hours later, Bea drops by our house and drops off the ingredients. No turning back now. Commence Operation Baklava!
I start chopping the nuts. It takes me forever to finish so my husband takes over and he turns out to be a lean mean chopping machine.
With much trepidation and excitement, my mom and I assemble the baklava. We then cut it into rectangles instead of diamonds.
Then it’s time for the trickiest part: baking the baklava in an oven where the markings on the knobs are no longer visible. We don’t have a thermometer so we basically just wing it. And as you can see, it’s a beautiful golden brown.
- 1 package phyllo dough
- 1 pound chopped mixed nuts (pistachio, macadamia, hazelnut, almonds, cashew, and peanuts)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
- In a bowl, toss together cinnamon and nuts.
- Unroll phyllo dough and cut to fit the baking pan. Cover the dough with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.
- Assemble the baklava by placing two sheets of phyllo at the bottom of the baking pan. Brush each sheet with butter.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon-and-nut mixture until the phyllo is pretty much covered.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 twice (or until your ingredients run out).
- Before brushing the topmost layer of phyllo with butter, cut the baklava all the way through to the bottom of the dish. Baklava is traditionally cut into diamonds but you may also cut it into rectangles or squares.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown.
- While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- Stir in honey, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the baklava from the oven then pour syrup over it.
- Let the baklava sit for about three hours so it can absorb the syrup completely.
- Serve and enjoy!