I’ve never been a huge fan of bucket lists. It just feels really chore-like to put things I want to do in life on a list that reminds me too much of my to-do list for school. Of course, that’s definitely a personal opinion and this isn’t to say that bucket lists are bad at all! However, despite the fact that I’ve never been much of a bucket list user, I started something quite similar to (if not exactly the same as) a bucket list. It’s a list of my cooking and baking goals—and it just keeps on growing.
You know that feeling that you get when you’re at a restaurant or a potluck or just searching recipes online at 1 in the morning (No? Just me?) when all of a sudden you can’t help but think: “Man, I have to try making that!” Yeah. I get that feeling all the time.
So yeah, I’m not big on bucket lists. But this list has helped me really visualize what I want to make in the future, and it prevents me from forgetting certain dishes. The list is clearly way too long to be just a side-thought in the back of my brain.
One of the items on my goals list? Baklava. I’ve had phyllo dough waiting in the freezer for so long now and I’ve been meaning to make something with it. Part of me was intimidated by the supposedly tedious process of laying down every single layer of the dough and brushing butter on it every single time, but I was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t seem tedious at all! Once I started, I got into the zone and just kept layering and layering until before I knew it, the entire thing was assembled.
Baklava usually has some sort of chopped nuts nestled between its layers of phyllo dough, and most baklava I’ve tried have featured crushed pistachios. But I thought I’d give walnuts a spin. And that syrup? Instead of using orange or lemon zest, I used grapefruit instead. I think it adds a nice tartness—barely noticeable behind the sweetness of the sugar and honey in the syrup.
You have to try making this. Turns out there’s absolutely no reason to be worried about the process! And the result is so wonderful that you won’t regret it for a second.
28-30 sheets of phyllo dough
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups walnuts
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp grapefruit (or other citrus) zest
1 tsp freshly squeezed grapefruit (or other citrus) juice
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin with a baking pan (I used an 11×7 in) and your melted butter. Brush melted butter along the base and sides.
2. Place one sheet of phyllo dough down (trim if necessary to fit the pan). Brush layer with melted butter.
3. Repeat step #2 until 10 sheets of dough have been placed in the pan.
4. Blitz walnuts and 3 tbsp of sugar in a food processor until roughly chopped.
5. Spread half of walnut mixture on laid out dough.
6. Repeat step #2 again, this time 8 times.
7. Spread remaining half of walnut mixture on dough.
8. Repeat step #2 again, this time 10 times.
9. Brush top layer with more melted butter.
10. Using a sharp knife, cut out diamonds or squares in the unbaked baklava. This will allow the syrup to run between the pieces later when finished baking.
11. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.
12. Meanwhile, prepare syrup by mixing syrup ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until slightly reduced and viscous.
13. Once done baking, remove baklava from the oven and immediately pour syrup over it, making sure to fill the cracks and cover the tops.
14. Allow baklava to cool for at least an hour so that the syrup seeps into the baklava.