This fabulous nut-studded pastry is a staple of Middle Eastern cooking, and is surprisingly easy to make. Layers of paper-thin pastry surround a rich nut filling, enhanced with lemon rind and cinnamon and drenched with a rich sugar syrup. This is a great make-ahead dessert, as it keeps well. A little goes a long way, so cut small pieces!
3 c chopped nuts, preferably walnuts, pecans, or almonds
2/3 c sugar
gratest peel of one lemon
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/4 c sesame seed (optional, but great)
1/3 c water
1/3 c sugar
1 1/3 c honey
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Roll filo into paper thin sheets (you will need to roll the pastry into about 20 sheets, at least 12×15 inches in size. Paper thin!) You may want to do this one at a time after all of the filling has been prepared.
Combine the nuts, optional sesame seeds, sugar, lemon rind, and cinnamon.
Place a sheet of dough in pan and butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top.
Top with another sheets of dough, then another, buttering in between and more nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water, honey and lemon juice until sugar is melted. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Makes about a 9×13 pan, about 3 dozen.