I’m a home-made person and baklava falls into that category because you can adjust the amount of sugar, honey, lemon or cinnamon used. I decrease the first two ingredients and increase the last two to fit my personal taste. Plus I use a mixture of pecans and walnuts for a richer nuttier flavor. The real secret of making this treat though is how to defrost the Phyllo (or filo) sheets. Yes, I buy them! If the sheets are thawed slowly they handle much better and are easier to work with.
When I lived in Washington state, I had an older lady friend named Leta. She is the one that taught me how to slowly thaw Phyllo sheets. You take the box out of the freezer and put in the coolest place in the house for an hour, maybe the garage floor. Then move it to the next coolest place, perhaps an unheated closet. Then put the box on the kitchen floor while you make the honey and lemon sauce. Finally move the phyllo to the counter, still unopened, and let it sit while you chop/grind the nuts and mix them with the sugar and cinnamon. Melt the butter, and now you may open the box and gently unfurl the phyllo sheets. Leta also taught me to cover the opened sheets with a damp towel so they don’t dry too much and break during the assembly process.
I haven’t made this in a long time as the older body doesn’t need this sugary delectable dessert. I wish I could say I’m as active as I used to be and I would burn off the calories, but we all know that isn’t true. I don’t remember exactly how many sheets are in the box of Phyllo, but it seems I placed about ten sheets in the pan, buttering every sheet with a pastry brush. Then the nut mixture was spread over the next few layers, so there were about ten sheets left for the top. Again, each layer of phyllo is coated with a thin layer of butter. Before baking, the dessert is scored into diamond shapes. Small is fine because of how wonderfully gooey this treat is.
Once the baklava is baked, you drizzle the lemon sauce over each piece and let it sit for a few hours so the sauce can be absorbed. I guarantee when you serve it the people who get to enjoy it will say it is better than they have ever had from a restaurant or bakery. Maybe I should make some and give most of it away for Christmas presents. That way I could have a little bit and remember how many good times I had with my friend Leta.