This baklava was created from two recipes given to me by two fabulous greek ladies , one of which was my Aunt Penny. I combined a little from each recipe, and then made some more changes of my own. The results are a huge batch of baklava that is perfectly balanced and fool proof. —Donna Balzano Kapetanakis
Finely chop walnuts. Add cinnamon, cloves, sugar and walnuts in a bowl and mix until well combined.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove phyllo from box and cover with a very lightly dampened kitchen towel. Melt butter and keep warm. Brush butter on the bottom and sides of pan. Place one sheet of phyllo and cover the bottom of the pan. Brush with butter lightly. Continue this process until you have a total of 10 sheets of phyllo.
Sprinkle the top of the phyllo with nut mixture, lightly covering the complete sheet. Add a layer of 3 more sheets of phyllo brushed with butter, as above. Sprinkle with nut mixture to cover. Continue this process until all the walnut mixture is used.
Make the top crust by using the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing the tops with butter as above. When finished, tuck under all the edges of the phyllo. Brush the melted butter liberally over the top. Wet your fingertips in cold water and sprinkle drops over the top of the crust lightly. This will help it from bubbling up while baking.
With a sharp knife, cut through only the top crust of phyllo, making a diamond pattern. Bake for one hour and half or until golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, make the simple syrup. Combine all the syrup ingredients, except for the honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the syrup for about 20 mins on a very low simmer. Remove from heat. Remove the peel and cinnamon sticks. Add the honey and stir to combine.
Remove baklava from oven. Pour 3/4 of the syrup over the hot baklava. Let it rest on a wire rack for about 10 mins and pour the remaining syrup over the baklava. Let the Baklava rest overnight or at least 8 hours. Do not refrigerate. Cut through to the bottom of the pan to remove the diamond shapes. Store in a cool place.