What you’ll need:
One box Athens Fillo dough – thawed. The box will have 2 separately wrapped packages of dough. You’ll use both packages, one for the bottom layer and one for the top layer. To prevent the dough from drying out don’t open the second package until you’ve used all of the first package.
1 lb whole walnuts
1 2/3 cup of sugar
1 cup water
1T rose water
1T orange blossom water
3/4 cup of butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grind the 1 lb of whole walnuts in a food processor or other type of blender to a heavy grind. Pour the nuts into a bowl large enough to hold the ground nuts and 2/3 cup of sugar. To the mixture add 1T cinnamon (or more to taste) Mix the nuts, sugar and cinnamon together until well incorporated. Set aside.
Melt the ¾ cup butter until liquid enough to spread with a pastry brush.
Open one of the two packages of the Fillo dough and lay it out flat. Place a slightly damp piece of paper towel over the top sheet to prevent the dough from drying out.
Lightly spray an 8” x 12” glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil or butter.
Working quickly to avoid the Fillo dough from drying out, place two sheets of Fillo dough on the bottom of the glass baking dish. Lightly spread the melted butter on top of the sheet of dough with a pastry brush. Cover with another sheet of Fillo. Spread that sheet lightly with melted butter making sure to spread it all the way to the sides of the pan. Repeat the process until all the dough from the first package is used.
Pour the ground nut/sugar/cinnamon mixture on top of the first layer of Fillo dough. Lightly smooth the mixture to ensure it is spread evenly across the dough and fills the pan. Lightly pat down.
Open the second package of Fillo dough. Cover the dough with a slightly damp paper towel as you did for the first package.
Lay 2 Fillo sheets on top of the nut mixture. Repeat the butter/Fillo layering process on top of the nuts as you did the layers underneath the nut mixture. Finish the last piece of Fillo with the melted butter.
To make the diamond pieces BEFORE YOU BAKE IT:
Once your assembly of the pastry is finished, take a very sharp knife and cut the pan of dough and nuts diagonally from side to side. Repeat cutting the dough diagonally at whatever widths you like. Once the whole pan is sliced diagonally start at one short end of the pan and slice through the pastry lengthwise to the other short end of the pan. When your pastry is cut into the diamond pieces, place the pan of Fillo and ground nut mixture into the pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes. Check to see that the pastry is not over-browned. Continue cooking for 5 minutes more, checking after each interval and to ensure that it does not overbrown. Baklava is usually done baking between 45 and 60 minutes.
To make the simple syrup:
While the pastry is baking combine 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1T of orange blossom water and 1T of rose water. (Both these items can be purchased at specialty food stores. George’s International Grocery in Fort Wayne carries these items.) Bring the sugar and the waters to a rapid boil. Once the mixture boils turn the heat to medium-low and continue cooking and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once the simple syrup mixture is completed, take it off the heat and allow it to cool. You should allow at least 30 minutes for the mixture to cool.
When the baklava is finished and removed from the oven immediately pour the simple syrup mixture over the top of the pastry in a steady but gentle stream making sure to cover the entire top of the pastry. The pastry will make a sizzling sound as the syrup falls over the still very hot pastry. Allow the pastry to cool for at least 5 hours to ensure the syrup soaks into the Fillo and nut mixture thoroughly.
Run a knife over the cuts you made prior to baking the Baklava to ensure the pieces are loosened and easy to remove from the pan. Stand back and let your family and friends descend upon the pan. Smile broadly with delight as they compliment you on your culinary skills and the delightfully sweet treat! Ya. You’re the bomb!
*Store uneaten portions lightly covered with plastic wrap. Covering too tightly can lead to soggy Baklava. Allowing the Baklava to sit in the open air allows the Fillo pastry to crisp more.
*This freezes very well, too!