1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup water
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick (optional)
2 tablespoons orange-flower water or rosewater (optional)
Honey - Nut Pastry:
2 cups coarsley ground walnuts or almonds or half of each
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
20 sheets frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and foam skimmed from the top
Makes 24 pieces
For the Cinnamon Syrup, combine the sugar, honey, water, lemon juice and cinnamon stick, if you wish, in a medium saucepan set on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange flower water or rosewater. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool, then regrigerate until needed.
For the Honey-Nut Pastry, combine the nuts, sugar and cinnamon (if using) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Lay the phyllo sheets on a flat surface and cover with a lightly dampened towel. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with some of the melted butter. Brush half a sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then fold in half by brining the short sides together. Brush the top half of the same sheet with butter, then place in the greased pan. Repeat with 4 more sheets of phyllo, then top with one-third of the nut mixture. Repaeat the layers of phyllo and nuts, ending with a layer of phyllo. Brush the top liberally with melted butter, then cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the baklava from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife, make lengthwise cuts 1 inch apart, cutting all the way through to the bottom. Cut diagonally across the lengthwise cuts to make diamonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 F and bake for 15 minutes longer, until the top is crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup over the top. Let cool completely, then cut over the same lines again before serving. The baklava may be prepared several days ahead.