MAKES 35 - 45 PIECES
This Greek version of a favorite Middle Eastern sweet is always best made with commercial phyllo.
5 cups finely chopped blanched almonds (about 1 1/4 lbs.)
1/3 cup finely ground bread crumbs
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
40 sheets commercial phyllo (about 2 lbs.)
1 lb. butter, melted
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1. Preheat oven to 300°. Combine almonds, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Unwrap phyllo and trim to fit an 11'' x 15'' x 2'' baking pan.Cover phyllo sheets with a damp dish towel.
2. Butter pan. Place 1 sheet of phyllo in pan; brush with butter. Lay a second sheet of phyllo over first sheet, brush with butter, then evenly sprinkle with 2 tbsp. almond mixture. Spread a sheet of phyllo out on a clean work surface, brush with butter, then transfer, buttered side up, to pan (nuts make it difficult to butter phyllo in the pan). Evenly sprinkle with almond mixture. Set aside two sheets of phyllo for the top, then continue alternating almond mixture with single buttered sheets of phyllo. Use reserved phyllo sheets, separated only by butter, to cover baklava.
3. Brush top with butter. Arrange pan so short side faces you. Cut across baklava with a serrated knife at about 2'' intervals. You should have 8 equal strips. Sprinkle top with water, cover with 2 sheets of parchment paper, and bake until golden, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Heat remaining 4 cups sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and 2 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, cool, and discard cinnamon stick.
5. Remove baklava from oven. Discard parchment paper, then pour syrup over entire surface. Tilt pan so syrup reaches all corners, then set baklava aside for 2 hours. Finish cutting baklava on the diagonal for the traditional diamond shape or cut into squares.