"Baklava is a dessert of Turkish origin, dating from the fifteenth century, today popular also in Greece and throughout the Middle East. Layered with nuts and drenched in sugar syrup or honey, it is the best known of all the phyllo pastries.
In Greece it was originally an Easter specialty, made with 40 layers of pastry representing the 40 days of Lent." from The Joy of Cooking, pg. 918
Good enough reason for us to make it; that and it's supremely nummiful. It's also a bit fiddly, as you will see.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 - inch baking pan. (Oooops - forgot to butter the pans. Oh well. We don't have a 13 x 9 pan, so we used two 8 x 8 pans, unbuttered...)
Finely chop or coarsely grind:
3 cups coarsly chopped nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and/or pecans), toasted.
We used red millet, canary seed, white proso millet, oat greats, safflower seeds, nyjer seed, buckwheat, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1 1/4 cup walnuts, 1 1/4 cup pistachios.
Stir together in a small bowl:
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (ooops - no lemon. Skip that ingredient)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (it wasn't enough)
Stack flat on a work surface:
1 pound phyllo dough
(Or you may choose to make your own. If you choose this arduous route, please give yourself an extra 4 hours and a glass of wine.)
Trim the phyllo into 13 x 9 - inch sheets (8x8, roughly) saving the scraps for another use (trash). Cover the stack with plastic wrap and a damp towel.
Add 2 more sheets and brush with the butter, then repeat once more for a total of 6 sheets. Sprinkle with half of the birdseed nuts and then half of the sugar mixture (since we were making two pans, we had to quarter these measurements as best we could).
(This step is optional and may help to relieve the anxiety and/or frustration you will experience in handling the phyllo dough.)
Cover with all of the remaining phyllo sheets, adding them 2 at a time and buttering only the second sheet each time. Brush the top with the remaining butter (there was none).
Using a sharp serrated knife so that the patry will not be crushed, cut through all of the layers to make 2-inch diamonds or squares.
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup honey
Zest of 1 orange, removed in large strips (a potato peeler did the trick.)
Happy Easter and enjoy the Baklava with your favorite feathered friends. You may now eat the gruyere.