Phyllo dough is sold in frozen packages, so you need to remove the package from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge 24 hours before you want to make the baklava. For best results, remove the phyllo dough package from the fridge about an hour before you plan to start so it will be easier to handle.
Start by preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss the chopped walnuts and cinnamon together in a bowl so the walnuts become evenly coated with the cinnamon. Next grab a 9×13 pan to “construct” the Baklava in. You will want to butter the bottom and sides of the pan.
Unroll the sheets of phyllo dough, so the stake of dough lays flat. Compare the dough sheet size to the size of your pan and trim the stack of sheets to pan size so they will fit properly. This will make the process go a lot faster. Also Phyllo dough dries out fast. Cover your dough with a damp paper towel. Only remove a few sheets at a time to work with.
Begin by putting down one layer of dough and brush it with some melted butter. Easy, right? Now just repeat this 9 more times. I told you there were lots of layers! Once you have 10 layer of buttered dough, spread 1/3 of the walnuts on top.
On top of the nuts make three more layers of dough, buttering each layer as you go. Grab another 1/3 of your cinnamon walnuts and sprinkle them on top. Next add three more layers of dough (don’t forget the butter) and top with the rest of the walnuts. Finish up by making 10 more layers of dough, buttering each layer as you go.
Yes, there are a lot of of layers (26) and a whole lot of buttering going on, but it is just straight forward repetition. This would be a fun project to include a child in, allowing them to brush on the melted butter as you place each layer. Now BEFORE you bake your baklava at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes (until the top is nice and brown), slice the pan of dough into small squares. You can also cut them in a crisscross pattern to create diamond shapes.
Don’t these look good!?!?
While the baklava is baking it is time to take the water, sugar, honey, vanilla, squeeze lemon juice and nutmeg and bring to a boil in a saucepan. You will let it boil till the sugar sugar dissolves completely. Make sure to stir so that the sugar doesn’t burn. Once the sugar melts you will remove the saucepan from the heat letting it cool.
When the baklava is done baking, pour the syrup you made over the top of the baklava. Allow the baklava to to cool for at least 3 hours, this will give it time to absorb all that yummy syrup. Now if you are like us….. you just eat the baklava. But if you want to serve these for a special occasion, give them as a gift. or just add a touch of “finery,” you could put each piece in a cupcake wrapper as part of their presentation.