Zuni’s 2nd Birthday / Baklava

Last week my blog-baby turned one, and this week my real baby turned 2!

To celebrate the occasion, my parents flew in from California and we hosted a birthday bash that included both sets of grandparents, close friends, and plenty of food.  Our menu included:

Appetizers- Chips and Salsa, Chicken Spring Rolls, and Channa Chaat

Main Meal- Chicken Biryani, Karhai Chicken, Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry), and Vegetable Pasta

Desserts- Gulab Jamun, Cake, and Baklava

With such an intensive menu, I wanted to start preparing in advance.  I didn’t want to stand around in my kitchen all day when my parents were visiting from so far, so preparing as much as I could before they arrived was the smartest thing to do.  I prepped the vegetables that were to be cooked a day before I cooked them, and I was even able to make the Baklava almost 5 days before the party!  I had found a recipe at Maureen’s website (love her site!) for Baklava that can keep well at room temperature for 2 whole weeks! 2 weeks people!  That’s perfect party-prep language!

Baklava has been on my to-do list for quite some time, and adding the fact that it stays so well at room temperature only fueled my desire to make it for Zuni’s birthday party.  Although it may seem intimidating, Baklava is actually pretty simply to make.  Maureen’s recipe provides a way to skip the usual buttering of each phyllo sheet, and instead pour the butter over the entire sheet of Baklava.  The end result tastes the same as if each sheet had been buttered separately.  Hey, it keeps well for long amounts of time, and it has shortcuts?  I’m in, and you will be too 🙂



Yield: One 9”x13” Pan


For Syrup:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange blossom water

For Clarified Butter:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter

For Baklava Layers:

  • 1 pound phyllo dough, at room temperature
  • 3 cups nuts, toasted (walnuts, almonds, cashews, and/or pistachios)
  • 1/3 cup sugar


Make Syrup:

Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan and boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, add orange blossom water, and refrigerate.

Make Clarified Butter:

Heat butter in a saucepan over low heat until completely melted.  Allow the melted butter to simmer and foam.  When the foaming subsides, remove from heat and skim the foam off with a spoon.  Line a jar or bowl with a paper towel and pour the butter into the vessel.  The paper towel will separate the excess solids.  Set aside.

Assemble Baklava:

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Grind nuts in a food processor into a coarse crumb.  Add sugar, mix, and set aside.

Brush the bottom and sides of pan with clarified butter.

Trim the phyllo dough to fit a 9”x13” pan.  Divide the dough in half (about 20 sheets) and place at the bottom of the pan.  Spread ground nuts over the dough evenly.  Place the remaining phyllo dough on top of the nuts, making sure that the top sheet is not torn.  A sheet from the center of the layer can be used if the top is torn.  Brush the top layer with clarified butter.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds by cutting six rows horizontally, and nine rows diagonally.

Pour the remaining melted clarified butter over the baklava and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.  Bake, on the shelf second from the top, for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Remove from oven and immediately pour the cold syrup over the hot baklava.  Allow it to soak overnight.

Note:  Baklava can be kept at room temperature for two weeks.


13 responses

  1. Many best wishes to your baby!

    I am big on pre-planning and preparing before the main event:) I am glad you do it too!

    Baklava looks simply perfect. I am inspired already to make mine too soon in sha Allah!

  2. Congrats on your son’s 2nd birthday! Wow…You cooked all that food!!! You are a brave women..I always cater for my boys bday and it’s only around 15 people but lately I’ve been making the cake which unfortunately hasn’t turned out that great 😦 . And that is a HUGE menu you put together!! I get nervous just making 2 dishes for a party..and you did it all with a 2 year old…great job!!!!

    Baklava looks amazing but I never realized there was so much butter in baklava..no wonder it tastes so good 🙂

    • Thanks Asiya! You’re lucky that you have a catering option… We have 1 Halal Indian restaurant near us, and even their food isn’t that good.
      It’s funny because I didn’t realize how intensive the menu was until I had it down in writing for this blog… It really put things in perspective LOL

      • We are spoiled here..growing up there weren’t many options..only Indian and we would sometimes go to Red Lobster. But now Mashallah there is so much..just about every cuisine. But sometimes too many options isn’t a good thing….more eating out…more weight gain 😦

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