I have always wanted to try making Backlava, but making it seemed like an impossibly task- like french macarons.
It took me a LONG time to agree to even try it for some reason. When I did, I LOVED IT! Perhaps that’s because it was made by a Greek woman I worked with, who was accustomed to making it frequently, and I assume used an old family recipe. I *remembered* it being more doughy then the ones that I made. This version is more crispy. But, maybe I’m just remembering it wrong…
Anyway, I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman and it was delicious!! Note quite what my memory told me baklava’s texture would be like, but scrumptious none-the-less! I followed her recipe exactly, but will add notes below to help guide you a bit more 🙂
Remove phyllo dough package from freezer and place in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw. Remove from fridge 1 hour before using. (of course, I didn’t quite leave THIS much time for it to thaw and come to room temp)
When working with the phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth.
Toss together the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly butter a rectangular baking pan (I used a 18×26 jelly roll pan). Make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan (if they’re a little bigger, that’s okay.) If they’re much bigger, just trim them with a sharp knife.
Butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then grab it and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.
Sprinkle on enough walnuts to make a single layer. (WARNING: I used WAY too much of the nut mixture on the first layer- I only had enough nuts for two layers. In retrospect, I would probably use 1-1 1/2 cups of nuts per layer) Butter two sheets of phyllo and place them on top of the walnuts. Add more walnuts, then two more buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat this a couple more times, or until you’re out of walnuts. Top with 4 more buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top. Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife. (I did squares to make my life easier- and that’s what my Greek co-worker did. I figured if it’s good enough for the Greeks, it’s good enough for me! :))
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the baklava is very golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, combine 1 stick of the butter, honey, water, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the saucepan evenly all over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, then drizzle on a little more until you think it’s thoroughly moistened. You’ll likely have some of the honey mixture leftover, which you can drink with a straw. Just kidding. (I used almost all of the sauce- I think because my rectangular pan was likely much larger than The Pioneer Woman’s)
Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered, for several hours. Once cool and sticky, carefully remove them from the pan.