There are many recipes for baklava, but they all basically come to stuffing the walnuts into the pastry. This dessert, traditional to the Mediterranean, The Balkans, and the Middle East looks like you slaved over it all day and have an experienced hand of a top chef, but it’s really easy to make. It tastes best the next day and since it’s somewhat time-consuming, allow yourself enough time to prepare. Make it best a day ahead.
Here is what you need:
3 cups water
Start with measuring out 2 cups of walnuts. It’s best to run them through a rotary grater, but if you don’t have one, use chopped walnuts (the smaller the pieces the better) Now, if you really want to be as close as possible to the original recipe, you can put chopped walnuts in a Ziploc bag and pound them out with a meat mallet. Let that frustration out you’ve been bottling up on the walnuts 🙂
To the same bowl, add 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can substitute with plain bread crumbs or even with cream of wheat) See, I told you it’s easy. Mix with 4 tablespoons of sugar and zest of one lemon. Add 1/3 cup milk and with your hand, combine these ingredients until they are slightly moist.
Most phyllo dough comes with two separate rolls in a package. I only used one roll and it was plenty for my 11 by 14-inch sheet baking pan. You can certainly cut the pastry to fit your baking sheet. Either way, cover them with a clean kitchen towel, to prevent from drying out. You don’t want dry pastry leaves because they don’t like being handled and break easily.
Take one sheet of phyllo, lightly brush with oil and place another sheet on top of it. Brush this sheet with oil as well. Don’t forget to keep the other sheets covered meanwhile. Line the walnut mixture along the long side of the sheets, and roll them up as tightly as you can. Repeat the process with remaining pastry sheets.
Now here comes the most difficult task. You have to leave baklava alone for a few hours so that the syrup sets in. I know, it’s hard. But afterward, you can eat all you want!