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Author Notes: For more photos and recipe notes, visit Cardamom and Tea. While enjoying baklava is absolutely delightful, my no-nonsense recipe demystifies the whole process of making it. The recipe completely eliminates the most tedious step: individually brushing each of the dozens of filo sheets with butter before they dry out. No damp tea towel or pastry brush is necessary here, since it takes literally 5 minutes to deal with the filo. This is accomplished by slicing all the way through the layers of dough and walnuts, pouring clarified butter over the top, and then baking it. Butter seeps all the way through each layer, making its way to the center of each piece as it bakes and resulting in perfectly cooked baklava without the tedious layering. And by slicing through before baking, you don't end up shattering the delicately crispy tops before serving. —Kathryn Pauline
Makes 4 to 6 dozen pieces, depending on how you slice them
- 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), plus an extra tablespoon for greasing
- 16 ounces walnuts (about 4 cups, chopped)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cardamom
- 16 ounces container filo dough sheets (do not open until the recipe tells you to)
- 16 ounces honey
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Use the extra tablespoon of butter to grease a 12" x 16" rimmed sheet pan.
- Melt the 2 sticks of butter.
- While the butter is melting, combine 4 cups chopped walnuts, 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cardamom, and set aside.
- Once the butter has melted, get a fine mesh strainer ready (if you don't have a mesh strainer, spoon the foam off the top of the butter) and then open the filo dough container.
- Place half of the filo dough on the sheet pan.
- Spread the chopped walnut mixture evenly over the filo dough.
- Place the rest of the filo dough on top of the walnut mixture.
- Cut the baklawa into diamonds by slicing straight across in one direction, then diagonally in the other direction (see photos above). It's best to work with a very sharp or serrated knife so that you don't tear, stretch, or dishevel the filo. It's alright if a few of the pieces go a little awry, but you want everything to stay pretty lined up.
- Pour the butter through the sieve to capture the foam, slowly drizzling it evenly all over the baklawa.
- Cook the baklawa in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until it has lightly browned. (Start checking after 15 minutes of baking).
- Cool the baklawa at room temperature in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes, until it's still warm, but not radiating heat from the top. Once cooled to this point, immediately pour 16 ounces of honey evenly over the top.
- Immediately top with ground pistachios.
- Let it sit until it comes to room temperature, at least one hour.
- Cut through the same lines you made before baking and serve.