Submitted by Adina Silberman
About the cook: Adina Silberman knows how to make people smile. She is trained as a dentist and is passionate about home cooking, and has a simple food philosophy: she cooks backwards, taking inspiration from the elements that compose a dish rather than the final product. With this mindset, Adina is able to think outside the box, cook with what is in season, substitute easily, and very rarely waste leftovers. Adina lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
About the dish: Baklava was always the treat I bought or was gifted. I never attempted making it at home because it seemed like it would be an overly tedious task. Once you get into the rhythm of things though, the act of layering each sheet of phyllo and chopped nuts, becomes quite cathartic.
National Origin: Turkish
Estimated Time: Over 2 Hours
1 ½ cup shelled pistachios
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
½ lb of Phyllo dough
1 cup vegan butter, butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
In a food processor pulse pistachios, cinnamon, and sugar, until the mixture resembles a rough powder.
Brush the bottom of a 9×13” pan with melted vegan butter. Place a single Phyllo sheet* on the bottom of the pan and brush the top of the Phyllo with melted vegan butter. Repeat this process until you have 6 layers total at the bottom of the pan.
*Phyllo sheets may not be exactly the same size as your pan. Trim them if they are way too large. It is also okay if there is a bit of excess creeping up the edges of the pan.
Spread ⅓ of the ground pistachio nuts evenly over the Phyllo. Layer and brush another 3 layers the same way you did for the bottom of the pan. Spread another ⅓ of the ground pistachios over the Phyllo. Layer and brush another 3 layers. Spread the rest of the filling on top. Top the final layer of nuts with 6 layers of Phyllo, brushing each sheet of Phyllo with vegan butter.
**Layer order: 6 Phyllo – 1/3 of nuts – 3 Phyllo – 1/3 of nuts – 3 Phyllo – 1/3 of nuts – 6 Phyllo**
Refrigerate the Phyllo/nut pastry for 1 hour. While it is being refrigerated, make the sauce by combining sugar, water, honey, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer until the sauce thickens – about 15-20 minutes. Once thickened, turn off the flame and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Using a sharp paring knife, slice cooled pastry into squares on the diagonal. Each square should be approximately 2×2″ – Make sure to cut through all the layers to the bottom of the pan. Once the oven is preheated, bake pastry for 45 minutes undisturbed.
Remove the pastry from the oven and immediately pour sauce in between all the slices. Avoid pouring over the top to ensure that it stays crispy. Top with any leftover chopped pistachio nuts as garnish. Let the pastry cool completely before serving – To serve gently lift out slices along cut marks.