Baklava (Honey and Nut Pastry)

Baklava is a delicacy found throughout the Arab world. The Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries (and now, the rest of the diverse population of Israel, as well!) continue to prepare and enjoy the taste of baklava. This sweet pastry is sold in both Jewish and Arab markets and comes in a multitude of varieties.

1 pound phyllo pastry sheets
1 1/2 cups melted sweet butter
1/2 cup chopped almonds
Dash of ground cloves
5 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups walnuts, pistachio nuts or hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 slices orange & lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. Place sheets of phyllo pastry in a 13"x9"x2" pan, brushing every other sheet evenly with melted butter.
  2. When 10 or 12 sheets are in place, combine almonds, cloves, sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts; spread 1/3 of this mixture over the sheet.
  3. Place another five or six buttered sheets of phyllo on top of nut mixture.
  4. Repeat this process two more times, alternating nut mixture with five or six sheets of buttered phyllo.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut baklava into diamond-shaped pieces.
  7. Heat remaining butter (there should be about 1/2 cup) until hot and light brown. Pour it evenly over the baklava. Sprinkle a few drops of cold water on top and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Reduce the temperature to 300°F and continue to bake for one hour.
  9. Meanwhile, make the syrup by combining the water, sugar, honey, orange and lemon rind, cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat the mixture until a drop forms when placed into a cup of cold water, then simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Strain.
  10. When the baklava is baked, pour the syrup over it.