My Greek friend Marina makes phenomenal baklava. She also used to take care of my son and would insist on me staying for a snack when I came to pick him up. Inevitably I’d inhale several pieces of her heavenly, crispy baklava that was still warm from the oven and dripping in maple syrup – the Canadian touch, she always joked. Sadly, she moved to London over the Christmas holidays and I miss her for many reasons, not least of which is her amazing baklava.
I’ve had to figure it out on my own. Using her pointers, my memory, and the pleasure gauge of my taste buds, I think I’ve finally come up with something truly delicious! This version, which I’m calling Apple Strudel Baklava, is a blend of Marina’s Greek influence and my husband’s Croatian obsession with strudel (usually made with sour cherries). Phyllo pastry can seem intimidating, but I think it’s a magic ingredient that never fails to impress, as long as it doesn’t dry out too much.
Apple Strudel Baklava
Ingredients: 10 sheets phyllo pastry; 1/3 cup butter, melted; 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced; 1 cup rolled oats; 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds; 1/3 cup brown sugar; 1 tsp cinnamon; dash allspice; dash cloves; 3/4-1 cup maple syrup, cold
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Mix together diced apple, oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
Taking one sheet of phyllo at a time and keeping others covered with a towel, spread on work surface and brush with melted butter. Repeat with remaining sheets.
Spread filling in a long mound that runs parallel to a long side, about 3 inches from the edge. Spread it out so it’s about 3 inches wide. Fold over the phyllo on the closest edge so it’s covered, then roll up. You’ll have a long log with open ends. Tuck them in if you like, but I don’t think it matters much.
Place in a glass rectangular baking dish. Brush top with butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or till deeply golden on top.
Remove from oven and carefully pour over the cold maple syrup. You’ll have to keep spooning to help it soak up. Marina says it’s important to be generous with the syrup because that’s what will give it the oozy, sticky taste that baklava is famous for! It’s even better if you let it sit in the syrup for awhile.
Enjoy! It’s best by far when fresh, since the phyllo will be soft by the next day, but still delicious.