I recommend making the syrup ahead of time, but if you do not remember, be sure to let the baklava cool completely before pouring the warm syrup over it. Either the syrup or the baklava should be warm, but never both according to what I read. For large batches of baklava it is recommended to let it cool first and put the warm syrup on later. I have done it both ways, and they both work.
Some recipes call for unsalted butter, but I’ve used salted most of the time and it tasted fine. The recipe below is actually a combination of two different recipes. This is approximately how I made it the last time.
1 pk. of fillo dough (about 20 – 30 sheets)
1 lb. butter, melted and with the solids skimmed off the top
3 - 4 C. ground walnuts (or pecans or unsalted pistachios)
1/2 C. sugar
2 Tbl. melted butter (I just take this out of the amount melted above.)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 450F. Brush 9 x 13 x 2-inch cake pan with butter. Place half the fillo dough in the pan (about 10-15 sheets). Spread all of filling mixture evenly over it. Cover with remaining half of fillo sheets. Cut into diamond shapes* using a good, sharp knife. Spoon the melted (or clarified) butter over it making sure to get it in all the cut lines and around the edges. NOTE: Do not use the milky stuff in the bottom of the pan – only the clearer, golden colored part that looks like oil.
Bake in 450F oven for 8 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the baklava in the oven for 45 more minutes. Do not open the oven during this time.
Remove from oven and spoon cooled syrup on the hot baklava making sure to cover all areas including around the edges, as with the butter. It may be necessary to re-cut the baklava before removing it from the pan.
2/3 C. honey
1/3 C. sugar
3/4 C. water
Juice from 1 lemon
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long
Mix honey, sugar, water and spices in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Add lemon juice and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool completely. Remove cloves and cinnamon before spooning over baklava.
You may increase or reduce the syrup based on your preferences.
------*To cut baklava into diamond shapes, cut straight lines across the 9” width of the pan. Then cut diagonal lines from the end of one horizontal cut to the end of another on the opposite side of the pan going in a straight line. Here is a link to a page that shows a slightly different cutting pattern, but it’s the same idea, and hopefully it will help. If you don’t feel confident of this, just cut it in smallish squares.
The diamond pattern tends to make some rather large pieces, so recently I’ve cut mine into triangles and squares instead. If you do triangles try not to cut them too small as it can make them hard to handle when you remove them from the pan.
=========================Note: If you do not have whole cloves or cinnamon, you may put in ground. The cloves would probably be about 1/4 tsp. and the cinnamon 2 tsp. This is an estimate since I haven’t done this. But, it will make your baklava darker. The point in using it whole is to get the taste without the color. It’s mostly an appearance thing, I think.
If you want to buy whole cloves or cinnamon but the price at your local grocery is prohibitive, I suggest checking out an Indian grocery store or food shop. A lot of larger cities have them, and we have gotten whole cloves and cinnamon at such places for much better prices that can usually be found in regular grocery stores. You may find other herbs and spices that you use cheaper there as well. Also, if you have an electric coffee grinder, you can easily grind up the whole cloves or cinnamon into powder if you want to later. Just be sure to clean the grinder well after using it for spices or herbs. (My mom actually keeps two – one for coffee and one for herbs and such. She watches for coffee grinders at second hand stores.)