When I was younger I wasn’t as big of a foodie as I am now, and every time my parents or someone else wanted me to try something new, I would always refuse. I only had my first baklava when I was about 15 years old, at a Bosnian restaurant. I realised then that it was something delicious, but after trying my auntie’s recipe, I never go back to store bought baklava. My Bosnian neighbour even invited me over once, and showed me how she makes her baklava, after which I had to make my own! The layers of buttery, thin phyllo pastry, and a mixture of nuts, soaked in flavourful sugar syrup make for a perfect baklava. And the best thing is, the flavour profiles are endless, so you can play around with different varieties of nuts and syrup infusions!
Ingredients (for a 9×13 inch baking pan):
- 500 – 800 g phyllo pastry sheets, depending on how tall you want your baklava to be
- 500 g ground walnuts (this is a classic in my family, but feel free to use hazelnut, pistachio, or even a mix of nuts)
- 500 g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 1 lemon
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- ground cinnamon, optional
- In a saucepan, melt the butter and let cool slightly. In another bowl break up the eggs and mix until homogenous. Slowly pour the butter into the eggs while whisking constantly, until all the butter is mixed into the eggs. Set this mixture aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- In another bowl add in the ground walnuts (or nuts of choice) and 100 g of sugar. Here you can mix in some ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt to taste.
- Next up is the layering. Using a pastry brush, brush a little bit of the butter-egg mixture onto the pan and layer on a sheet of phyllo. Brush on some more egg-butter mix onto the phyllo sheet and repeat one more time until there are 3 sheets of phyllo layered on the bottom of the pan. Next sprinkle a few tablespoons of the nuts and sugar mixture in a thin and even layer. Top with a sheet a phyllo, brush with the butter-egg mix and add another phyllo sheet, which you then brush with some more butter-egg mix. Sprinkle another few more tablespoons on top and repeat.
- Essentially you should have layers of two phyllo sheets and nut mix as each layer. Once you run out of the nut mix, top everything with 3 phyllo sheets, again brushing the egg-butter mix in between. Cut this into desired size slices pre baking, and bake for 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top.
- While the baklava is baking, make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan add the remaining 400 g of sugar and fill with water so the water is about two fingers over the sugar. Add in lemon slices, and the beans from vanilla bean as well as the pod. Set over medium heat, and get the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat and let sit while the baklava bakes.
- Once the baklava is out of the oven, set it aside and pour over the hot sugar syrup (pour it over a sieve to catch all the lemon slices and vanilla pods). Let cool at room temperature, then put in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. I like to serve my baklava cold, but you can have it room temp if you’d like! Enjoy!