Baklava

Makes 48 to 60 pieces. Recipe is from Maria Pentas.

Syrup

3 cups sugar

1 heaping tbl. honey

2 cups water

Juice of 1/2 orange

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick

10 to 20 whole cloves

Peelings from 1/4 orange and 1/4 lemon

2 tbls. brandy

Filling

3 cups chopped walnuts

3 cups chopped almonds

2 to 3 tbls. plain breadcrumbs

5 tbls. sugar

1 tbl. cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp. ground clove

1/2 lb. unsalted butter, clarified

1 lb. phyllo pastry dough

Water

1. Make syrup by combining all syrup ingredients except brandy in a pot and bringing to a quick boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add brandy and simmer for 1 minute. Let cool.

2. Combine the filling ingredients and mix well.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush clarified butter on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. (Size of pan will depend on the size of phyllo dough being used.) Reserve 6 sheets of phyllo for top of Baklava.

4. Lay 6 sheets of phyllo in pan, brushing each sheet lightly with butter. Sprinkle some filling on top of the sixth sheet of phyllo in the baking pan.

5. Always being sure to lightly brush each sheet of phyllo with butter, lay two sheets of phyllo on top of filling. Sprinkle filling on second sheet.

6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 several times, until the rest of the phyllo and the filling are used.

7. Top with the reserved 6 sheets of phyllo, brushing each one as before.

8. With a sharp knife, cut the Baklava through the entire thickness to form diamond-shaped pieces. Lightly sprinkle with water.

9. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven and pour cold syrup over hot Baklava.

10. Cover Baklava with a clean kitchen towel and let cool overnight before serving. Leftovers can be frozen.

Editor’s note: According to “The New Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst, clarified butter is made by slowly melting unsalted butter to evaporate most of the water and separate milk solids from the golden liquid. Foam is skimmed off the top and the clear, or clarified, butter is poured off of the milk solids on the bottom of the pot.