Baklava

A number of years ago, I was visiting my Chief Culinary Consultant for the weekend in DC when we decided to do some outlet shopping in Virginia. We took a scenic route back, and happened upon fields of white tents and cars parked in the grass. We figured it was some type of festival and we were hungry, so we spontaneously pulled in. Turns out, it was a massive beer festival… the Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest, to be exact. After getting our tasting glasses and sampling brews such as watermelon beer, we hit the food tents. On our way out, we walked past a little Greek food tent manned by an older couple. They were charming and the pastries looked unbelievable; we loaded up on some baklava and headed home. Later that night, we dug in and I suddenly remembered how absolutely phenomenal baklava is. Layers of buttery, flaky phyllo dough are piled high between sections of spiced, ground walnuts. Once baked and golden brown, the entire pan is drowned in a spiced honey syrup, which is left to soak in for hours. If you’ve never had it, you can’t even imagine how crazy good it is. You owe it to yourself to eat some, immediately!

A few months after that beer festival, I remembered the baklava and wanted to make it for Thanksgiving. I turned to who I consider the queen of Greek food – Elly. At the time, she still didn’t have her family’s baklava recipe on her blog, but was nice enough to email it to me. Shame on me because it’s been at least three years since I first made this and I’m just now sharing it with you! While there is nothing inherently difficult about assembling this pastry, it is fairly time-consuming. As long as you have a little bit of patience, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic treat once this is finished. It’s sweet, a little sticky, a little spicy, and fabulously nutty. I think that description could apply to many of us (myself included), don’t you think?! :)

The simplicity of this recipe allows for a good bit of customization and adaptation. You could certainly use a different type of nut if you prefer, or a mixture. I was actually a little short on walnuts this time around, so I threw in pistachios to round out the pound of nuts that I needed. I prefer to use orange peel in my syrup because I love the flavor, but you could absolutely use lemon if you prefer. Changing up the nuts and flavor of the syrup can create totally new versions! No matter what you end up using, be prepared for eating the baklava in mass quantities because one piece is definitely never enough.

One year ago: How to Make a Rainbow Cake
Two years ago: How to Measure Butter
Three years ago: Pittsburgh Steelers Cookies

Baklava

Yield: 24 pieces

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip orange peel

For the Pastry:
1 pound walnuts, toasted
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 (16-ounce) package phyllo dough, thawed
1½ cups unsalted butter

Directions:

1. First, make the baklava syrup. Combine the water, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and orange peel in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Place the walnuts, cinnamon and cloves in a food processor and process until the walnuts are finely ground.

4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat, keeping it warm throughout the process so it doesn't start to solidify.

5. Brush a 9×13-inch pan with melted butter and place one layer of phyllo at the bottom. Brush the phyllo with the melted butter, and then add another layer of phyllo, and brush with more butter. Continue this process until you have layered 7 sheets of phyllo.

6. Gently spread one-quarter of the nut mixture evenly over the top of the phyllo. Repeat the process of layering phyllo sheets and brushing with melted butter, but this time use only 5 sheets of phyllo. Gently spread another one-quarter of the nut mixture over the top of the phyllo. Repeat this twice more, layering and buttering 5 sheets of phyllo and topping with one-quarter of the nut mixture. Finish off with 7 layers of buttered phyllo. Brush the top sheet with melted butter, as well.

7. Using a sharp knife, trim any ragged pieces of phyllo dough that has crept up the sides of the pan. Cut the baklava into 12 even squares, and then cut into triangles (you should have 24 triangles). Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown.

8. As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel from the syrup and slowly pour it over the hot baklava, making sure to get it into all of the cracks and crevices, as well as on the top surface. Allow the baklava to sit for at least 4 hours before serving so the syrup has a chance to soak in. (The baklava is actually best when left to sit overnight before serving.) Leftover baklava can be stored at room temperature, covered with foil.

(Recipe adapted from Elly Says Opa)

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41 Responses to “Baklava”

  1. Kevin (Closet Cooking) on September 12, 2012 at 12:48 am

    That baklava looks really good!

    Reply

  2. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on September 12, 2012 at 1:57 am

    This is something I’ve always wanted to try!

    Reply

  3. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen on September 12, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I’ve always wanted to try making baklava, but the process seems so intimidating! It’s one of my favorite desserts, and your version looks delicious.

    Reply

  4. Averie @ Averie Cooks on September 12, 2012 at 2:11 am

    I LOVE baklava but have never made it at home…you make it look totally do-able, thank you!

    Reply

    • Anne Sprague on September 17th, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      Baklava is one of my great weaknesses, but I’ve never made it! Your recipe sounds very doable. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks.

      Reply

  5. Coleen's Recipes on September 12, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Your photos are excellent, I’ve never made a baklava.

    Reply

  6. Keisha on September 12, 2012 at 5:10 am

    I’ve never made baklava…I’ve always been to intimidated,but I have had some great baklava. In fact I think I almost chose a college based on baklava. Years ago at an open house my mom and I attended during lunch they served us some killer baklava and I turned and looked at my mom and said “if this is what they’re serving here I’m in!” It was the most wonderful thing either of us ever tasted…and thus a testament to my obsession with food.

    Reply

  7. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on September 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I absolutely love Baklava!

    Reply

  8. Lori on September 12, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Your baklava looks perfect. I wish I could reach through the screen and grab one!

    Reply

  9. icakepops on September 12, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Love the color of your baklava – just right!

    Reply

  10. Marla on September 12, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Looks amazing, as usual! For those who have been intimidated by phyllo, a key to working with it is to keep it from drying out. I lay it out flat and cover it with a damp towel on a sturdy piece of plastic wrap to keep that from happening. Cover it back up EVERY time you take a sheet off. It adds a little to the prep time but well worth it. Also, with baklava, the only sheets critical to the final appearance are the top couple, so don’t worry if some of your sheets tear while you’re working with the lower layers.

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 12th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Marla, Thanks for sharing these tips! I kept my phyllo covered with a damp paper towel while I worked, I forgot to mention that above!

      Reply

  11. Maria on September 12, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Oh wow! It looks perfect!

    Reply

  12. Anna on September 12, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe! i LOVE baklava and have wanted to make it for a while but was kind of scared to try:) thanks again…i can’t wait to try it!!!

    Reply

  13. Anna @ hiddenponies on September 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I just made this for the first time recently and was surprised how easy it was, with a little patience, to get that delicious, deep flavour! Your baklava is gorgeous!

    Reply

  14. Angela on September 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Yum!! I’m going to use pecans! :)

    Reply

  15. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on September 12, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Scrumptious! Love baklava!

    Reply

  16. buttercream bakehouse on September 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    These look incredible and sinful all at the same time.

    Reply

  17. Holiday Baker Man on September 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Baklave has always been a fearful place to go for me…..It won’t be this fall.

    Reply

  18. Annamaria @ bakewelljunction.wordpress.com on September 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve always wanted to make baklava but I just never got around to it. I’ll have to try this recipe.

    Reply

  19. Susanna @ Tastelling.com on September 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Nice recipe. Sounds easy. I have never made baklava because I’ve always been warned how difficult it is to make. But this recipe doesn’t seem difficult at all!

    Reply

  20. Deb @ knitstamatic on September 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Baklava is one of my husband’s favorite desserts (okay, I like it too) and he’s asked me on occasion to make it but I just haven’t found a recipe that spoke to me…until now.

    Reply

  21. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on September 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    This makes baklava sound so much more doable than I previously thought it was! I love the perfect triangles :)

    Reply

  22. Laura Dembowski on September 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I love baklava, but it’s so hard to find really good baklava. This certainly looks like it’s outstanding. I might have to find some time to give it a try.

    Reply

  23. Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking on September 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    the first time I had baklava was probably when I was a wee one. Maybe because of all the Turkish and Greek influences in my cuisine, but it was a dessert almost everyone would learn to make by the time they are 10.
    The most common ones were with walnuts (English walnuts) and later when traveling to Turkey wasn’t considered a luxury with pistachios.
    Looking at your baklava reminds me of Sunday afternoons when we’re gather and enjoy a piece of sweet sticky baklava.

    Reply

  24. Ela on September 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    The Baklava looks decadent. I’d like to make it soon. How many boxes of filo dough do I need for this recipe?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 16th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Ela, Just one (16-ounce) package of phyllo.

      Reply

  25. Michelle on September 13, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Can I just say? You read my mind!!! Okay… Maybe, I yelled that out a bit loud. OMG! Thanks to you, I’ll be getting my Baklava fix this weekend.

    Reply

  26. Amy @ The Savvy Kitchen on September 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Love Baklava! Can’t wait to try out this recipe.

    Reply

  27. elly on September 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Yay! So glad you like this recipe. I really need to make it again soon but the only time we’re around enough people to finish it off, it’s my in laws and most of them don’t eat nuts. Boo.

    Reply

  28. Kathy on September 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Oh my goodness! I have to make this. My mouth is watering in anticipation of that salty/sweet/spicy flavour.

    Reply

  29. Sandie@afoodieaffair.com on September 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Ooh! I made this a short time ago, and it was quite easy to make! Yours looks terrific!

    Reply

  30. Tami on October 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I made these for our Canadian Thanksgiving. They were easy to make, and came out beautiful. The only adaptation I made was I added a little vanilla extract to the syrup after it had cooled. I will be making these again.

    Reply

  31. Steph in Lex on December 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I LOVE baklava. Always thought it would be really superdifficult, but when I saw your recipe on here I thought it seemed totally manageable! It’s quite possible that I lost count with the sheets, but I actually didn’t use an entire box of 16 oz of phyllo dough. No problem…I’m definitely making it in a couple of weeks for our Christmas celebration so the leftover phyllo dough will be used quickly! Thanks for yet another awesome recipe.

    Reply

  32. Kelly on December 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Ohhh this looks so so good. I never thought I could try it myself but this doesn’t look too hard :) Yummo!

    Reply

  33. sinem on March 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Hello everyone, baklava belongs to Turkey, not Greece.. it is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire…

    Reply

    • Izzy on May 23rd, 2013 at 3:21 am

      Turkey, Greece…. whatever. OPA!!!!

      Reply

  34. Izzy on May 23, 2013 at 3:20 am

    I’ve been making Baklava for 22 years and this recipe is VERY close to mine so I KNOW it’s delicious!! OPA!!!

    Reply

  35. Izzy on May 23, 2013 at 3:25 am

    ALSO!!! If your phyllo breaks on a dry day, don’t fret!! You can make a “Patch Quilt” out of the pieces. The melted butter will glue everything together seamlessly! Don’t be scared to try it!!!

    Reply

  36. merve on September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

    baklava is a turkish food. you should come to turkey and eat the baklava than you can understand :))

    Reply

  37. Yacoub al-Husseini on November 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    This is likely just my Middle Eastern tendencies shining through, but… NO ARAB WOULD EVER USE HONEY SYRUP! That’s a Greek ting! So, just as a note… if someone prepares this dessert for an Arab/Turk/Kurd, look up a recipe for Atyr syrup. It’s a beautifully floral sugar syrup… once you go atyr, you never go back. :)

    Reply

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