Spartan Baklava

There are many places & cultures that claim this
extraordinary dish... but to me, there is no Baklava
 without the Phyllo dough of the Greeks!

What is Baklava without Pistachios? or Almonds? or
Pecans? ( my favorite addition!)

Here is an easy -- though not inexpensive -- recipe
that will impress and delight anyone who is lucky enough
to get some!


All my daughters love to cook, it is what often
 brings us together! Here Karen and I enjoy a
 moment waiting for the Baklava to finish cooking!

This was Karen's first time making it herself
and she hit a home run!

Making your own Rose Water!

We have an incredible Rose Garden, so it
seems rather personal and practical to make our
own Rose Water... delicious!.


Rose Petals from my Rose garden with
distilled water from San Luis Obispo

Notice the rock in the center? This is to rest
the cup to catch the rose distillate!

Placing ice in the center of the inverted
lid helps to encourage condensation
within the kettle!

 Spartan 300  Baklava  

Baklava is a simple layered pastry with an intermittent filling
with a penetrating glaze



2 heaping cups finely chopped pistachios
 ( from 1 1/2 lbs roasted, salted in the shell)
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon Allspice
1/8  teaspoon salt


2 cups melted butter
1 one pound phyllo dough  


1 1/2 cup honey
1 cup rosewater
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup baker's sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 vanilla beans (slit bean and scrape insides into glaze)
1 whole cinnamon stick
tsp cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt.


Shelling Pistachios may not be the most
difficult nut to shell... but it does
take strong hands!

1 1/2 lbs of Pistachios in the shell finely
 chopped yield a bit more than 1/2 liter or
more that 2 heaping cups... but not as much
 as you might expect!

1. In a food processor, pulse until finely ground: nuts, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

2. Unfold phyllo dough. If not already provided, you will need to construct
40 -  9-by-12-inch rectangles.

Cover with moist cloths.

3. Brush bottom of a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with melted butter. Place a 'leaf' of dough
in the pan, it will fit perfectly! Brush a sheet of dough with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets.
( 8 total sheets per layer) Sprinkle about 1/4 of the nut mixture

4. Repeat until you have a total of four nut fillings and a plain top.

5.   leave the top layer unbuttered for now.

6. Gently flatten and smooth the top of the pastry with your hands. Brush an additional
cup melted butter over top layer.

7. Slice baklava into diagonal strips (as shown in the pictures below). Repeat in
horizontal direction, forming a diamond pattern.

8. Bake until golden , 50 to 60 minutes  at 350 degrees.

9. In a saucepan, combine honey glaze ingredients with 1 cup rose water. Bring mixture to a
 boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved for about 10 minutes. Strain mixture into a vessel used for pouring.

10. While baklava is hot, pour syrup into cracks, reserving a small amount for the
top of baklava. Cover with foil and let sit overnight. They say Baklava tastes even better after a week...
but ours never last that long ... so I think that this may be a rumor! :)

12. enjoy

24 uneven servings (16 diamonds and 8 pieces)



The Pistachios ready for chopping finely
 in ye old food processor!



Pistachios ZAPPED!


Mixing together a bit more than:

2 heaping cups Pistachios,
1 cup Almonds
1 cup Pecans!


Adding the spices to the nuts!


2  vanilla beans for the sauce

slice the beans lengthwise and scrape out interior

Keeping the Phyllo dough fresh!


brushing each layer of Phyllo with butter!

A good brush makes the job easier!

butter 8 Phyllo dough sheets
sprinkling the first layer with nuts
repeat 4 times!

(8 leaves - nuts - 8 leaves - nuts - 8 leaves
- nuts - 8 leaves - nuts - 8 leaves)

more butter!!!
Karen is a perfectionist!

We all enjoy cooking with our daughters!

Dad inspecting Karen's work!

the first cut!

slice along the diagonal of the
'imaginary 9" inch square

The diagonal cuts come first!

Note: every rectangle has a square or more in them.
So our little 9 by 13 pan has a nine by nine square that
we can mark with 4 cuts on a side... leaving one extra cut
on the long side!

Take your time and cut all the way through. I start off
the first pass with a 'sawing' motion and hold the top layer
in place. This is followed by a straight pass with a knife.

then the horizontal!

You do have some odd pieces left over that
you wouldn't have with a typical square cut
 Baklava... but this is more fun!

so we have 16 perfect diamonds plus 8
odd pieces... all delicious!


Straight from the oven to rest and cool!
After it cools, it is good to take a knife and
reopen the cuts in the Baklava.

Meanwhile back on the stove we have
been cooking the syrup mixture for
 10 minutes or so!

Finally, we pour the syrup into the cracks.
then all over the top!

Allow the Baklava to sit for a day or
so lightly covered with foil to encourage
 the flavors to mingle!


Then enjoy our SPARTAN Baklava!