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Baklava, Tertanoush

Sweet Walnut Pastry with Filo 

350°F Oven
Yields 24 - 32 pieces

A deliciously rich sweet pastry - much more practical to make in the days of commercially prepared filo sheets. Our Aun-tay used to make her own filo dough, using a long stick to roll a golf ball-sized piece of dough to cover the kitchen table. "Baklava" and "Pakhlava" are the same word, the difference is in the transliteration from the original Greek and Armenian alphabets. You will find many varieties of Pakhlava in Middle Eastern bakeries, including rolled, queens and "bird's nests". This traditional layered Pakhlava, cut in a diamond shape, is most common. Pistachio nuts can be subsituted for walnuts. Greeks use honey in the syrup, Armenians do not.
1 pound (25) prepared filo dough sheets (approx. 13" x 17")
3 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 orange peel, grated
11/2 cup clarified butter
2 cups sugar
11/2 cups water
4 oz honey (see note)
11/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

  1. Mix nuts, sugar, cinnamon, orange peel for filling.
  2. Butter bottom and sides of a 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan.
  3. Cut sheets of filo in half to fit the pan.
  4. Place 10 cut sheets of filo in the bottom of the pan, lightly brushing each layer with melted butter.
  5. Sprinkle 1/3 of nut mixture on top of sheets.
  6. Repeat with next 10 sheets and nuts until you have 30 layers of filo and three of nuts
  7. Place about 20 layers of filo on top, lightly buttering each.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut through dough lengthwise and then diagonally about 1 1/2 to 2" apart to make diamond shapes and pour a little melted butter on each diamond. Sprinkle lightly with water to prevent curling of top layers.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes at 350° F.
  10. Pour any remaining butter over dough and continue baking 25-30 minutes until it is golden brown in color. It is very important not to undercook the pastry.
  11. While Pakhlava is baking, prepare syrup.
  12. Place sugar, water and honey in a large pot and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Add lemon juice. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 15 minutes.
  13. Cool to lukewarm.
  14. When dough is finished baking, spoon syrup evenly over pakhlava and allow to set for several hours. Cut again into serving portions.

Filo dough dries quickly in the heat of the kitchen. Work with one sheet at a time, keeping the rest covered with a lightly dampened cloth.
Frozen filo dough is available in 1 lb boxes at most supermarkets in the freezer section.
When using frozen filo, it is important to slowly thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator and then let it come to room temperature (unopened) for two hours before using.
Commercial frozen filo gives between 22 and 35 full sheets per pound. You need 25 full sheets for this recipe.

The Greeks use honey in their syrup, omit if you are purely Armenian and increase sugar to 2 1/4 cups

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