For My First 29th Birthday

June 24, 2012

in Encore Worthy, How to be a Housewife, How to Diet in Reverse, Sound Bites

I had the perfect day all planned out. I’d wake up to birthday pancakes fresh off the griddle,then leave my children in the loving arms of their favorite babysitters and embark on a picturesque hike through the wilds of Maine, just the Big Man and I, have a picnic complete with strawberries and champagne, and then let the Big Man carry me back down through the woods to the car, arrive home to a house full of sleeping children, a clean bathtub, and a good book.

I had the perfect day all planned out.

And then I decided to take up running. It was supposed to be good preparation for the hiking.

Yeah. We all know how that went.

Since the Big Man refused to carry me up or down the mountain, I figured I had two options. I could throw myself a surprise birthday party. Or I could bake me some baklava.

Wondering which it was?

Here’s a hint: I kept my bra on.

For the uninitiated, Baklava is ALWAYS the right answer.

But it must be home made. Preferably by a greek or turkish woman. Or one who has made a deal with the devil to induce the secret of it from a greek or turkish woman.

Those soggy mountains of philo dough and nuts they sell at the grocery stores? Were not made by a greek or turkish woman. Or the devil.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve tasted true Baklava. Straight from the hands of a turkish woman. And a greek one. Though not at the same time.

So slapping a few honey-drenched chopped walnuts between two boxes of philo dough just wasn’t going to cut it. Not for my Birthday Baklava.

The whole “no running, driving, or doing anything fun” bit of this foot in a boot thing, however, gave me plenty of time to scour the internet.

Oddly enough, I did not find a single turkish or greek woman spilling the secrets to her baklava.

At least not with her clothes on.

So this recipe is probably about as authentic as that egg roll you got at the “Fukien Gourmet” Chinese Buffet down next to the 7-11.

But its better than nut-thing.

Hehe. I punned. I know. I’m sorry. That was aweful. I’m just going to go sit in the corner and eat some more baklava now…

Birthday Baklava
Dish: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Feeds: 16
  • 2cups Honey
  • 1stick Unsalted Butter
  • ½cup Water
  • ½cup Sugar
  • 3tsp Mexican Vanilla Extract
  • 10 Cloves
  • 2tsp Lemon Zest
  • 1stick Cinnamon
  • 1pkg Phyllo Dough
  • 2cups Chopped Walnuts
  • 2cups Chopped Pecans
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • ½stick Salted Butter
  1. In a medium sauce pan, combine 1stick unsalted butter, 2cups honey, ½cup water, ½cup sugar, 3tsp vanilla extract, 10 cloves, and 2tsp of lemon zest, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a non-stick spatula frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Once the syrup has reached a roiling boil, add 1 cinnamon stick, turn heat to low, and simmer for 30minutes.
  3. Remove syrup from stove and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 350degrees.
  5. Finely chop 2cups of walnuts and 2cups of pecans, then toss with 1tsp cinnamon to coat.
  6. Melt ½ stick of butter, and use a brush to lightly coat the inside of a 9x13 glass pan.
  7. Unwrap phyllo dough, and place between two sheets of plastic wrap with damp towel over top. Keep dough in this at all times when not using to prevent drying out.
  8. Using a brush, thoroughly butter the first sheet of phyllo dough.
  9. Take the buttered sheet and the one immediately below it, and place buttered-side down in the pan. Lightly pat into corners and up the sides of pan.
  10. Repeat two more times, for a total of 6sheets: buttered/plain, buttered/plain, buttered/plain.
  11. Sprinkle 1 cup of chopped nuts to evenly cover phyllo dough.
  12. Butter two separate sheets of phyllo dough, and place on top of walnuts.
  13. Repeat, layering 1cup of chopped nuts and two buttered sheets of phyllo dough 3 more times, or until you run out of nuts.
  14. Top the last layer of nuts with four buttered sheets of phyllo dough, laying the top sheet butter-side up.
  15. Using a very, very sharp knife, cut through the baklava, but just to the bottom layer of nuts, not all the way through, to form diamond or square pieces.
  16. Bake for 45minutes at 350degrees, until pastry is golden brown.
  17. Immediately after you remove baklava from oven, pour syrup over top of it, a little at a time, allowing it to soak in before pouring more. If you like a little less-syrupy baklava, use ⅔ of mixture.
  18. Allow the baklava to cool overnight, or 12hours, uncovered.
  19. Finish cutting all the way through the pastry and enjoy!
I don't care how delicious this is, make it the day before and WAIT. Birthday Baklava is NOT going to taste as delicious the day before your birthday as it will the next day. On your Birthday. Because it's BIRTHDAY BAKLAVA, YA'LL.

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