Almond Five Spice Baklava

almond five spice baklava recipe from
Okay, I've got baklava on the brain, and a small confession to make. See how those cute little baklava are monogrammed? Um, there is no real reason it's the lesson N. Honestly, the little N stamp was just sitting on my counter in front of my face and I thought "Huh, that could be cute. Let's see if it works." Well, it did, and now I'm the fool with monogrammed baklava. I've been giving it away and my friends keep asking "So what's with the N? What's that mean?" Um, it means I was too darn lazy to get out a letter that had a meaning. It means I've been sloppy and somehow that letter N has been sitting on my windowsill for a few months. But really people, it means just eat the darn free food! N is for no questions about what N means! 

So the last batch was filled with hazelnuts and chocolate. Mmmmm. This batch is more closely aligned with traditional baklava. It's filled with Chinese five spice powder and ground almonds! Lots of cinnamon, anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves. Mmmm. If you don't own any, mix up your own! Only own three of the five? Cool. Use those three and enjoy! 

Almond Five Spice Baklava Baklava
made one 8x8 pan of baklava

1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar (I actually used lemon juice)

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 tablespoon five spice powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup  melted butter

1/2 cups honey
1/2 cups  water
1/2 cups sugar

To make the phyllo dough:

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt. Mix with paddle attachment.

Combine water, oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) in a small bowl.

Add water and oil to the dry mixture in mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water (I had to add a tablespoon more).

Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.

Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best ( I let mine rest 2 hours and it was perfect).

Rolling your Phyllo:

Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. I have included a fantastic video at the end of the post on how to roll out your phyllo dough, using a wooden dowel, which worked perfectly for me. You may also use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you.

Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.

Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.

Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel (see attached video for a visual, its much easier then it sounds) Remove; notice how much bigger it is!

Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect sheet for the top you will never notice.

When you make it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, it just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store; it is made by machine.

Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up.

Between each sheet, again, flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not dry out.

Make the syrup:

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved

Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Allow to cool as baklava cooks

Make The Filling: 

Stir together ground almonds, five spice powder and sugar. Set aside

Assemble the Baklava:

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan

Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet

Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it's not needed)

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better.

Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.

With a sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the way through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 8x8 pan cuts nicely into 20 pieces. If monogramming, now is the time to press the letter stamp into each piece. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge

Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)

When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.

Serve at room temperature.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: There are a few ways to store your baklava. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container. Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks. You will notice as the days pass it will get a little juicier and chewier. You may choose to store it in the fridge; this will make it a little harder and chewy, but does increase the shelf life. You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw.

Additional Information: I have included some videos and links to help you through the process