Baking baklava on a budget

Learn to make baklava with a college-friendly recipe that doesn’t demand too much of your budget or your time.

Baklava, a traditional Mediterranean pastry, made simple and festive. With few ingredients and instructions, this recipe is perfect for anyone, even dorm students. Photo by Kelsey Heng/The Chimes

Baklava, a traditional Mediterranean pastry, made simple and festive. With few ingredients and instructions, this recipe is perfect for anyone, even dorm students. Photo by Kelsey Heng/The Chimes




This may be the time of the year, when you are getting antsy for Thanksgiving — or in my case, wishing you were traveling instead of being in school.

In an attempt to reconcile my need for holidays and the street cart sweets of Istanbul’s Istiklal Street, I bring to you dorm-friendly baklava, where home-baked goodness meets ease.

What I love about this recipe is that it has the feel of street food, and yet still fills the room with an aroma that will make curious passersby forget where they were going.
Baklava is a traditional Mediterranean pastry with walnuts and honey, but can have a number of variations. I like it because it combines sweetness with crunch. So without further ado, baking mavens, here are your ingredients:

Amount Ingredient Cost
2 15 oz. prepared pie crust $1.98
1 cup chopped walnuts $1.74
1/2 cup dried cranberries $1.68
1/3 cup sugar $0.98
honey $2.13
ground cinnamon $1.10 per oz.
1 lemon $0.44

All prices are based off of Walmart, my new baking obsession. This is why: I was in the baking aisle wondering why there were so many giant bags of chopped walnuts. I know myself and I would not eat the rest of those walnuts, since the recipe only needs one cup.

Just as I was about ready to throw in the towel and buy the big, expensive bag, I saw little bags, as if the baking gods had heard my cry of “Chopped walnuts one cup!”

If you are patient and perceptive, you will find the right amount of ingredients and not be stuck with a bunch of leftovers, which I know is highly inconvenient in a dorm.

All right, now pay close attention:
Read the directions on the piecrust box on how to properly thaw the dough. Do not start this recipe until the piecrusts are completely thawed. If you bought them frozen, you need to leave them out on the counter for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and then roll out a piecrust onto a baking sheet.

For the filling, mix the walnuts, cranberries and sugar, together with one teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of lemon juice and three tablespoons of honey.

Dump the mix onto the center of the flat piecrust and spread out with a spoon, leaving about a half inch of untouched crust around the edge. Unroll the remaining piecrust on top, and seal the edges to make a giant baklava dumpling.

With a fork, poke the top a couple of times to allow air to escape during the baking process.

In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon of sugar with a tablespoon of ground cinnamon.

On top of that, mix in a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of water. Stir into a paste with your index and middle finger, and then smear on the top of the baklava until evenly coated.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on the sheet or a wire rack, if you have one, for 10 minutes. Cut into 16 or so pieces, pie-style, and pair with apple cider.

If you cut the baklava into 12 to 16 servings, each piece will be less than 200 calories, making this an ideal dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving you full of guilt. You could practically eat it for breakfast — and yes, I have done that too.

As an incentive for you to try my recipe, the first five bakers to upload a picture of their baklava to my blog will receive all the ingredients to make my next recipe, courtesy of yours truly. Be sure to include any notes of your personal touches to the recipe. Cheers!

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