This is my second attempt at making Greek baklava and I've now confirmed it. This is the easiest thing to make ever. Even when you screw it up royally, it tastes fantastic. This particular recipe was even easier than the first I made as it only required walnuts. While the first one was good, it had walnuts, almonds, and pistachios (which I had to painstakingly shell for 10 minutes to get the right amount). I'm sure you could add almonds or pistachios to this recipe if you wanted to get all fancy, but it's definitely not necessary.
Things I learned:
- I screwed up the layering. I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was feeling pretty rushed by the end of the day yesterday. I shouldn't have even started it, really, but I'd taken out the phyllo to unthaw earlier that morning, so there was really no turning back (there probably was, but I didn't see it that way at the time). Plus I thought the instructions were slightly confusing on the layering part and the amount of nuts to put between each one. Before I knew it, I had too many nuts left over, and I was running out of dough. I think I should look at the number of sheets I have compared to what the recipe is saying. I think brands might differ on this because I kind of recall having the same sort of problem the first time, only I think I was just one or two sheets short. I'm definitely going to find out how many are there and divide it myself accordingly.
- Even though I used a larger pan this time, it still wasn't quite large enough. Next time, I'll have to go with my wider and longer metal pan. It really sucks having to tuck and fold and rip and crimp the phyllo so it'll fit.
- One of these days, I'm going to try making it using melted butter between the layers of dough, but as it is now, I really love using just plain ol' cooking spray (a trick I got from recipe #1). It makes things a lot easier, quicker, and probably a lot less heavy on the calories. This recipe calls for butter, but (remember how rushed I was?) I couldn't be bothered to cut it and melt it (I know. So time consuming).
- I can't cut things into triangles. I started cutting and then instantly realized I had no idea what I was doing, so my pan looks like a Mondrian painting except with triangles. Straight cuts and squares is the way to go for me.
- Make the syrup first! The instructions say that either the baklava has to be piping hot from the oven or the syrup has to be boiling off the stove, but they can't both be hot. So instead of realizing this after assembling and starting the cooking process on the baklava, then starting on the syrup -- which forced me to have to desperately quick cool my syrup by pouring it back and forth into different cups while letting it rest in the fridge -- I suggest making the syrup first. Popping it in the fridge quite leisurely. Taking your time chopping the nuts and assembling the dough. Then you can sit around on the internet for the 40-50 (mine was too brown at 50) minute baking time. Then saunter yourself into the kitchen when your timer buzzes, pull out your now completely cooled syrup, and pour that bad boy on immediately.
- More nuts! Even like 1/2 a cup more would have been nice.
Delicious Greek Baklava