Monday, November 9, 2009
The Making of the Baklava
Thanks to Mom's legacy, Thanksgiving is the start of a build up of anticipation and excitement for our whole family. She always made sure that the Christmas season was one big non-stop family event. From Thanksgiving through New Years Day, we had a sense of expectancy and excitement. There was the decorating of the house, cooking and baking, parties and dressing up, all of which she established traditions for. We loved and looked forward to these celebrations every year as the holidays approached. Now, these many years later, when the holidays arrive, there is a feeling that I get deep inside of me that is warm, inviting and familiar. Just like when I was a child, it starts at Thanksgiving and keeps building until the New Years holiday is over.
One of our most favorite traditions was the making (and eating, of course) of baklava. Baklava is a Greek pastry that, when made correctly, is to die for! Mom got the recipe from an old Greek woman who didn’t have the ingredients or amounts written down. It was from memory that she carried out this most beloved tradition.
Dad would sit for hours and slice pecans as thinly as he could get them. He wouldn’t hear of using a processor to cut them, (they had to be sliced just right). We would sit and watch as my parents gently laid the delicate layers of phyllo dough, brushed with melted butter, pecans, honey, sugar and cinnamon. Layer after layer, they built their masterpiece while the stereo played all of our favorite Christmas albums. As a child, this process seemed to go on and on for hours. After the baklava came out of the oven, Mom wrapped the hot pan in towels and let it sit. (I never asked her why she did this). Then we had to wait for what seemed like forever, to get our first bite.
For every party that we attended, Mom would load up a plate of baklava and take it with us as a hostess gift. It was always a favorite and our friends looked forward to it almost as much as we did. I hope that you enjoy this recipe. I am giving it from memory, just as Mom did. You can vary the ingredients to make it to your liking. I hope that your holidays are filled with memories and traditions that take you back to a magical time when life was sweet!
This is a time to reflect on the traditions of the past and the new ones to be made. Surround yourselves with those who you love most, in this world! And remember to enjoy family and friends and to make precious memories!
2 lbs sliced pecans
2 lbs of melted butter (separated, use only clear)
1½ lbs honey
2 lbs phyllo leaves
2 C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp powdered cloves
Directions: You need a 9X15 2in deep enamel roast pan
Mix dry ingredients
Butter bottom and sides of pan; Layer phyllo dough and brush melted butter for 8 layers.
Layer phyllo, melted butter, and dry ingredients until 8 sheets of phyllo are left.
Layer phyllo dough and brush melted butter for 8 layers. Cut into 2 inch diamonds (on the diagonal).
Heat honey to boiling and pour over baklava.
Bake at 400° until brown and crisp.
Cover baklava with towels and let sit for 24 hours and serve
From His Lap