Bosnian (Balkan) baklava is the midcentury modern of baklavas; its value is its simplicity. Baklava at its core is a strong sweet meal. Done well, one to two pieces will satiate you in one sitting, kind of like the area coffee.
Simple syrup (agda):
- 26 ounces sugar
- 3.8 cups water
- 1 lemon (cut into rounds)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar)
- 5 ounces sugar
- 1 pound walnuts (de-shelled, 3/4 ground, and 1/4 minced finely)
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter (or 1 and 1/2 cups)
- 2 boxes phyllo dough (36 sheets, 13X17 inches long)
- Make the syrup (agda) by combining water and sugar with lemon rounds and vanilla.
- Combine all three and bring to a boil. Boil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- Grind about 12 ounces of walnuts. Mince the remaining 4 ounces. Mix the ground and minced walnuts and add 5 ounces sugar. Melt butter over low heat. Leave 3 phyllo sheets aside, and cover with a kitchen towel.
- Heat oven to 360F. Butter the baking pan generously. Layer 6 phyllo pieces in the pan, brushing each with butter before adding the next layer. (If phyllo is larger than pan, cut the sides until it fits in perfectly.)
- Grab a generous handful (about 2 oz) of the nut mixture and sprinkle evenly over the sheets. Layer 2 sheets on top of the mixture, brushing each with butter before adding the next layer. Repeat until you run out of the mixture and phyllo sheets. (Including the bottom layer you should have a total of about 10 layers.)
- Add the 3 phyllo sheets you set aside as the top layer, buttering each layer before adding the next. Wait to butter the top sheet until you cut baklava.
- Carefully cut baklava into vertical strips (about 1.5 inches each). Turn the pan 45 degrees, and again carefully cut into vertical strips, thus creating small diamond shaped baklavas. Now butter that last layer of phyllo. Place on medium rack and bake for 15 minutes or until it blushes.
- Bring the temperature down to 300F and bake for 90 minutes checking baklava frequently. If it blushes too much, cover with foil.
- Take the pan out of the oven, and pour (now cold) syrup/ agda generously over baklava, ensuring that baklava is extremely moist (yet not “swimming” in syrup). Place the lemon rounds evenly in the pan over baklava. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave out overnight so baklava can soak up the syrup.
- Serve the following day.
What you don’t eat cover with foil and transfer to fridge. If preferred, warm baklava up in microwave for 10-15 seconds before consumption.
Baklava can stay in the fridge for several days, although it rarely does. 🙂
For easier cutting, you can place baklava in the fridge for 30 minutes after you layer it (in this case you can butter that last layer right away).
A friend bakes hers at 400°F for a few minutes until it catches color, brings down the temperature to about 360°F and bakes it another 40 minutes. I haven’t tried it this way, but if you report back.