Why This Recipe Works
We wanted a recipe for classic baklava featuring a crisp, flaky pastry that was light yet rich, a filling loaded with fragrant nuts and spices, and just enough assertive sweetness to pair with a Turkish coffee. To achieve this goal, we sprinkled phyllo dough with three separate layers of nuts (tasters liked a combination of almonds and walnuts) flavored with cinnamon and cloves. We brushed the phyllo layers with just enough olive oil to make them crisp and flaky, but not so much that the result was greasy. We found that cutting the baklava through rather than just scoring it before baking helped it absorb the sugar syrup. Finally, letting the baklava sit overnight before serving dramatically improved its flavor. A straight-sided traditional metal baking pan (not nonstick and not a glass baking dish) works best for making baklava. Phyllo dough is also available in larger 18 by 14-inch sheets; if using, cut them in half to make 14 by 9-inch sheets. Do not thaw the phyllo in the microwave; let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 4 to 5 hours. While working with the phyllo, cover the sheets with plastic wrap and then a damp dish towel to prevent drying.