How to Make Baklava
Makes 20 Sheets of Dough
Baklava Dough Recipe
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ cups water at room temperature (about 70°F)
- ¼ cup cornstarch for dusting
- Sift the flour with the salt and place on a work table, preferably one with a wooden top. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the eggs, olive oil, and water to the well. Mix the ingredients slowly to make a dough, Knead the dough, dusting it and your hands lightly with cornstarch now and then to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Knead the dough by pressing down on it with the heels of both your palms and pushing it forward to stretch it, then pulling it back toward you, turning the dough as you work. Lightly dust the dough with cornstarch again and knead it this way for about 2 minutes. Roll the dough into a cylinder, then pick it up at both ends and stretch it until it’s about 24 inches long. Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
- Repeat this process two more times, each time kneading the dough for 2 minutes, stretching the dough, and letting the dough rest covered with a damp cloth for 15 minutes.
- Turn out the dough onto a cornstarch-dusted surface. Pulling from both ends, reshape the dough into a 24-inch cylinder. Cut it into 20 equal pieces.
- Gently flatten each piece of dough with the heel of your palm. Sprinkle the pieces lightly with cornstarch. Spread out the pieces of dough so that they don’t touch one another and cover them with a damp cloth. Let them rest for about 15 minutes.
- With a regular rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into a 6-inch diameter circle, lightly dusting both sides with cornstarch. Stack the pieces into 2 piles of I0 each and let them rest for 30 minutes covered with a damp cloth.
Using an oklava, roll out each piece of dough again by pressing down on the center of the dough with the oklava and pushing it toward the outer edge and then pulling it back toward you, rotating the dough with a quick motion after every few rolls. Roll each circle into a 14 x 20-inch-long paper-thin piece. This dough holds together well, so if you want to stretch the dough further and feel comfortable handling it, you can hold the dough vertically and rotate it while gently pulling at the edges. Stretch it this way until you can almost see through it.
- To prevent the dough from drying once you have finished rolling it out or stretching it, sprinkle it lightly with cornstarch and cover it with a damp cloth.
Now you are ready to assemble the baklava.
Makes 48 Pieces
- 2 ½ cups cold water
- 3 ½ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cups walnuts
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ cups unsalted clarified butter
- 2 packages filo dough, each containing 20 to 22 sheets of dough
- Finely chopped pistachio nuts (optional)
- Heat the oven to 190°C.
- To make the syrup, combine the cold water with the sugar in a medium-size saucepan. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. The syrup is ready when it is light yellow, and when a small spoonful dropped onto a wooden surface and cooled is tacky. Stir the lemon juice into the syrup and set it aside to cool.
- Place the walnuts and sugar in a food processor. Process until medium to finely ground—do not grind too fine. Set aside.
- Brush the inside of a 14 x 18 x I-inch baking pan all over with a little of the clarified butter. Place I sheet of dough in the pan. With a wide pastry brush, lightly brush the dough with a little of the clarified butter. Continue layering the dough and brushing with butter until one package of dough is used.
- Spread the walnuts over the dough and lightly sprinkle it with water—using a plant mister is best to help the dough adhere to the walnuts when the next layer is added. Using the second package of filo dough, layer the dough over the walnuts, brushing each sheet with a little of the butter. Trim the pastry edges to fit neatly in the baking pan. Brush the top layer and the edges with clarified butter.
- Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut through the dough halfway down the height of the pan. To make 48 pieces, make 4 lengthwise cuts and 12 crosswise cuts. (To make triangle shaped pastries, make 6 cuts crosswise instead of 12, and then cut diagonally across each rectangle. For diamond shapes, cut the dough diagonally in both directions.)
Bake the baklava in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 160°C and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the top is light golden. Remove the baklava from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for about I0 minutes. Recut the pastries along the lines all the way to the bottom of the baking pan and pour the cold syrup evenly over the cut lines. Sprinkle the baklava with ground walnuts or pistachio nuts, if so desired, and let it cool completely.
- Serve at room temperature.
Note: Baklava keeps for one week stored in a cool, dry place.