Features Editor Cate Coulacos Prato remembers her mom and grandmother every time she makes that quintessential Greek dessert, baklava.
1 lb. unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the walnuts, cinnamon and orange rind. Melt the butter. Using a pastry brush, “paint” the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ pan with a thin coat of butter and lay one piece of phyllo in the pan. Brush more butter on top of the phyllo and add another layer of the pastry dough, until you have 7 layers or so. Grab a handful of the nut mixture and sprinkle it over the layered phyllo. Brush butter on a fresh sheet of phyllo and put that in the pan butter-side down. Butter the top, and sprinkle on another handful of nuts. Continue buttering and sprinkling until you have about 7 sheets of phyllo left. Then, return to layering just the butter and dough.
With a sharp knife, score the top few layers of phyllo with a knife diagonally in one direction and then the other direction to make diamond shapes. Do not cut all the way through to the bottom. If you have leftover butter, pour it over the top of the pastry.
Put the baklava into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
In the meantime, in a small saucepan combine 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1/2 a lemon (squeezed), and 1 stick of cinnamon. Bring to a boil and boil a few minutes until clear. Stir in 1/2 cup honey and cool. Remove the 1/2 lemon and cinnamon stick before pouring over the baklava.
When the pastry is done, remove from the oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Then pour cooled syrup over it. Allow pastry to cool completely before cutting. Cut all the way through the bottom layer and serve.