Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Love subdues all, and I am subdued by Love.
By love's salt, I have been made sweet as sugar.
The perfect dessert.
Total time: 3-¾+ hours
Preparation: 30 minutes
Baking time: 1-½ hours
Cooling: 2 hours
1-¾cups sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1-¼ cups water
2 tbsp. honey (optional)
2 tbsp. rosewater or orange flower water
½ tsp. allspice (optional)
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter
1 lb. fillo dough
Nut Filling
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
Coconut Filling
2-½ cups shredded coconut
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. orange flower water
Raisin-Nut Filling
½ cup sesame seeds
1-½ cup finely chopped pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts
½ cup raisins
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg

First prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar, water a lemon juice in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. If you like the taste of honey, add it after 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the rosewater or orange flower water, and the allspice if desired. Let the syrup cool in the refrigerator while you prepare the baklava.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To prepare the filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter over low heat, skimming off the solids that rise to the top. Grease a large baking pan (about 9x13") with 2 tbsp. of the melted butter. Gently open up the stacked fillo sheets and cut them in half to fit the bottom of the pan. Place two sheets of fillo in the pan, then brush over the top with a tablespoon of the melted butter. Add two more sheets and butter the top, then continue this process until you have eight layers in the pan. Sprinkle half of the filling over the fillo, then add six more layers of fillo, brushing with butter after every other layer. Sprinkle the other half of the filling over the fillo, then layer with the rest of the fillo. Brush the top with the rest of the butter. Cut the top of the baklava without compressing its top.

Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 300F and bake for another hour or until the top is light gold. Remove the pan from the oven and pour the cold syrup over it, then let the baklava rest for at least 2 hours before serving.