Middle East Baklava

Baklava is a favorite in Greece as well as Yugoslavia, Turkey and Albania. Phyllo pastry creates crispy layers and is found throughout the Middle East. Keep dough covered with plastic wrap, then a slightly damp cloth to prevent sheets drying out on the edges. Frozen pastry should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight, then placed on the counter 2 hours before using. If you are allergic to walnuts, use whole-wheat crackers.

Honey Syrup

    cup clover honey
    cup water
    cup granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Walnut Filling

    1 cup finely chopped walnuts
    ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
    teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
    1 teaspoon orange zest

    1 (16-ounce) package phyllo dough, thawed in refrigerator
    1 cups butter, melted

1.  Preheat the oven to 350.

2.  Syrup: In a 2-quart saucepan, heat honey, water, sugar and   
     lemon juice; simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2.  Filling: In a medium bowl, mix walnuts, brown sugar,         
     cinnamon, allspice and orange zest.

3.  Assembling: Unroll phyllo dough and cut in half to form       
     two approximately 8 x 13 -inch rectangles. Cover        
     with waxed paper and then a damp paper towel.

4.  Layer 20 sheets of pastry in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch buttered glass
     baking dish, brushing butter between each sheet. Top with
     filling. Layer the next 20 sheets of pastry, brushing butter
     between sheets. The pastry will shrink slightly once baked.

5.  Cut the top layers of the sheets and filling diagonally from
     one corner to the other so that you have a large X. Be careful       
     not to cut through the bottom layer of pastry. Continue to cut    
     2 more rows on both sides, both ways until you have diamond
     shaped pieces. Try to match up edges as you cut so you will     
     also have triangle pieces on the edges. Place in preheated   
     oven and bake 30 minutes.

6.  If needed, increase heat to 475 for 5 to 15 minutes to brown.       
     Remove from oven; pour syrup over pastry and let sit 10     
     minutes. Finish cutting diamonds all the way through.

     Makes 24 pieces of baklava