Baklava on wooden board
Photography by Stephen Devries / Food Styling by Nathan Carrabba

In Turkey, you’d really make baklava only for big occasions. Otherwise, you’d hit one of the tatlici dessert shops. Nejla Orgen’s version uses salted butter—most recipes call for unsalted—because she likes the tanginess the salt adds. She opts for walnuts over pistachios simply because walnuts tend to be cheaper and easier to find, but you can make yours with pistachios if you prefer.  

Makes approximately 44 pieces
  • 1¾ cups (423 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar, divided
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 pound (457 grams) walnuts
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup (227 grams) salted butter, melted
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1¾ cups sugar and 1½ cups water to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice; simmer 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, and set aside to let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Brush a 13x9-inch baking pan with melted butter.
  3. In the container of a blender or the work bowl of a food processor, chop walnuts until finely ground but not pulverized. Place nuts in a medium bowl; toss with remaining 1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar until well combined.
  4. Unfold phyllo pastry. Cut sheets in half to fit in prepared pan. Take only 1 sheet at a time, and keep remaining sheets well covered at all times to prevent them from drying out.*
  5. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo in prepared pan. Using a pastry brush, brush phyllo with melted butter until completely covered. Lay another sheet of phyllo on top. Repeat process until you have used half the package of phyllo. Top with ⅓ of walnut-sugar mixture.
  6. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on top of walnut-sugar mixture, and brush with butter. Lay another sheet, and top with ⅓ of walnut-sugar mixture. Lay another sheet, and brush with butter. Lay another sheet, and top with remaining ⅓ of walnut-sugar mixture. Continue layering and buttering sheets until all phyllo has been used.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut 2-inch diagonal strips across pan, being careful to only go halfway through layers of pastry and filling. (Start with one diagonal cut approximately in center of pan. Then cut parallel lines to the left and right.) Cut intersecting lines lengthwise to form diamond shapes.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes, and pour cooled syrup over warm baklava. Let stand for several hours. Recut pieces before serving, this time going all the way through to bottom of the pastry.


Read the whole article in Bake From Scratch Winter 2016


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