Well, as easy as it gets. Baklava is the classic phyllo pastry recipe. But the simplified directions below make this rich, flaky Greek* pastry recipe doable. And your guests will adore you.
*While Baklava was originally an Assyrian creation, the Greeks get credit for the phyllo dough version we love, a Greek creation. Phyllo means "leaf" in the Greek language, referring to the leaf-thin dough in this irresistible dessert.
3 cups coarsely ground walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
24 sheets phyllo dough, (1 lb. box) thawed
2 cups melted butter (1 lb.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 of a lemon with peel, sliced
Peel of 1/2 orange
5 whole cloves
Note: With this and any phyllo pastry recipe, gather all ingredients and make all preparations before unwrapping the phyllo dough. It is very thin and delicate, so work with one sheet at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap (or both) to prevent it from drying out.
In a medium bowl, combine the nuts, ground cinnamon, cloves, and sugar. Brush the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with melted butter.
Now start buttering and stacking.
Bottom layers: Working with one sheet at a time, brush 8 sheets of phyllo pastry with butter and place them in the pan, one on top of another. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over that eighth sheet.
Filling: Place 2 buttered sheets of phyllo on top and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over it. Repeat 4 more times (phyllo, nuts, phyllo, nuts) for a total of 10 sheets for the filling.
Top layers: Brush 6 phyllo sheets with butter (8 if you have extras) just as you did with the bottom layer and stack them on top.
Cut through all the layers in a diamond pattern with a very sharp knife. Bake at 300° until golden brown, about 1 hour.
Syrup: Start the syrup as soon as you put the baklava in the oven. Combine all syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and let the mixture boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and cool.
Remove the baklava from the oven and pour the cooled syrup evenly over the top of it. It's best when prepared a day or 2 ahead.
Makes 24 to 48 servings, depending on the cut.