A New Day

Walking through the lobby of our campus always presents one with unique opportunities. While passing through, you might be asked to give blood, donate books for African schools, accosted by any number of businesses who want you to join their summer employment roster, or, as was the case yesterday, given free food and an opportunity to embrace an unfamiliar culture.
Image found at http://www.indianpublicholidays.com/2010/08/parsi-new-year-greetings-pateti-greeting-cards-navroz-festival-2010/
Since yesterday was Noruz, the Iranian New Year, which means “New Light” or “New Day,” an area of our school’s foyer was devoted to teaching us about this holiday and the culture from which it comes. Part of this tradition involves the preparation of several specific dishes, one of which being my favorite dessert: baklava. So, in the spirit of Noruz, I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for this light, nutty pastry which looks challenging to make, but is really quite simple!

What You’ll Need

1 9×13 baking dish

1 Basting brush

1 Medium Sauce Pan

1 16 ounce package of phyllo dough (available in the freezer section of most grocery stores)

1 pound of chopped walnuts and pecans  (this is my favorite combination, but any type of chopped nuts will work)

1 stick of butter (I usually get by with only using a half stick, but it all depends on how you apply it to the dough)

1 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice

1 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup honey

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 350° F

2. Butter the bottom and sides of your baking pan

3. Chop your nut mixture – I usually chop the nuts until they’re relatively fine, but having larger chunks will still work just as well

4. Add cinnamon to nut mixture and mix until the cinnamon is evenly distributed.

5. Unroll your package of phyllo dough and cut the stack in half so it matches the size of your pan. In order to keep the phyllo from drying out, I’ve been told to dampen one or two paper towels and place them on top of the dough while you prepare the dish.

6. Now the fun part!
Begin placing sets of two phyllo dough sheets on the bottom of your pan, brushing melted butter onto the top of each set. Repeat this until you have a base of eight sheets of phyllo dough.

7. Now, sprinkle enough of the nut mixture to lightly cover the dough. Cover the mixture with another two-layer set and continue buttering the dough. Repeat this step until you’ve run out of your nut mixture or of room in your pan.

8. Top with six sheets of phyllo dough, buttering the top; and, with a sharp knife, cut the baklava into whatever serving sizes you prefer before placing your pan into the oven for 50 minutes, or until the top layer is crisp and flaky.

9. While the pastry is baking, now is a good time to prepare the sauce. Bring the water to a boil in your sauce pan, and mix in the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add your vanilla and honey and let simmer for twenty minutes.

10. Once your baklava has finished baking, immediately pour the honey-topping over the pastry and let it cool. To store your baklava, keep the container uncovered, otherwise it has a tendency to get soggy.

And that’s all there is to it! Bear in mind that this is my favorite recipe, not the traditional, Noruz style of Baklava. For a more authentic baklava recipe, here’s a link to CitronandCinnamon’s Lebanese variation: Nutty Baklava.
If you have your own, favorite way of making this dish, or another dessert you love to make, let me know! I’m always looking to try new things!

Happy baking, and happy Noruz!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. sounds good – feel free to bring it over anytime! 🙂

    when the bee business gets going, you’ll have to print up a little booklet with honey recipes & include this one!

    Reply

  2. One of my favorites, too! Now you have me thinking about it. (Thank you for Faving me on Blotanical. By doing so, you brightened my day very much.)

    Reply

  3. what a great way to celebrate New Day!!

    Reply

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