Baklava

Baklava Baklava is one the most common Greek desserts. Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup made out of honey and sugar. Apart from...

Baklava
Baklava

Baklava is one the most common Greek desserts. Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup made out of honey and sugar. Apart from Greece it is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, but is also found in Central and Southwest Asia.  It is sweet and tasty! This is typical of Greek cuisine as most of the deserts rely greatly on both nuts and honey. The combination of sweetness with the taste of the nuts gives great flavor.

Interested in making your own Baklava? Check out this simple Baklava recipe. Not only is it a unique dessert to wow your guests, but is perfect to bring a Greek theme to your meals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chopped mixed nuts ( I personally like baklava made with just walnuts. So another option for you is to use only one or two types of your favorite nuts)
  • 1 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 cup of melted butter
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 1 16 oz package of phyllo dough/puff pastry
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Of these ingredients, most are very common. However, the phyllo dough might not be available at all grocery stores. You may need to call or investigate local stores to see which ones carry that.

Directions:

  1. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Mix the cinnamon and nuts together.
  4. Unroll the dough and cut the entire stack so that it will fit into the baking dish.
  5. Cover the dough with a damp cloth so that it doesn't dry out.
  6. Put two layers of phyllo in the backing dish.
  7. Brush it with melted butter.
  8. Sprinkle 3 teaspoons of the cinnamon and nut mixture on top.
  9. Repeat this layer process until all of the mixture has been used.
  10. On top use approximately 6 layers of the phyllo.
  11. Use a knife to cut diagonally all the way through the entire Baklava. (To cut it authentically, look at the tips below!)
  12. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
  13. While baking, combine sugar and water in a pan.
  14. Bring it to a boil and then stir in the honey, lemon juice & zest, and vanilla. You can add more lemon juice if 1/2 a cup seems too little or less if it seems too much. The final syrup should be balanced, sweet but you should taste the lemon flavor.
  15. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  16. Remove the Baklava from the oven when the time is up and immediately spoon the hot sugar mixture over the dough.
  17. Let cool before serving.

Tips:

  • To cut Baklava properly: Cut into four rows and then diagonally 9 times. This should create 36 small diamonds.
  • If your Baklava turns out too dry, consider increasing the amount of honey to 3/4 of a cup.
  • For easier cleanup, consider using a disposable foil baking dish.
  • Keep in mind that although this dish is very easy to make it IS time consuming. Be sure to plan accordingly.

Regional variations of baklava

  • Turkey -  baklava is traditionally made with pistachios, walnuts, almonds (parts of the Aegean Region).
  • City of Gaziantep -  in southeast Turkey is famous for its pistachio baklava and it regards itself as the native city for this dish.
  • Black Sea Region-  hazelnuts are commonly used as a filling for baklava.
  • Greece -  baklava is supposed to be made with 33 dough layers, referring to the years of Christ's life.
  • Albania -walnuts are used as a filling and the dough may include egg yolks
  •  Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia -baklava is made with walnuts and sugar syrup.

    Pakhlava
    Pakhlava

  • Armenia -  paklava is made with cinnamon and cloves.
  • Azerbaijan - pakhlava is mostly prepared during the Nowruz festivity. The pakhlava is cut into diamond shapes and each piece is garnished with a walnut or an almond.
  • Afghanistan, Cyprus -  baklava is prepared into triangle-shaped pieces and is lightly covered in crushed pistachios.

    Baklava sprinkled with pistacios
    Baklava sprinkled with pistachios

  • Georgia - baklava is made with honey, walnuts, vanilla, sugar, butter, and sour cream.
  • Israel - baklava is made of phyllo pastry sheets, nuts, such as pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, sweet butter, clove, sugar, cinnamon, and the syrup combined with orange and lemon rind.
  •  Jordan - baklava is made of dough layers filled with nuts, such as pistachios, and syrup made out of sugar and honey.
  • Lebanon -  baklava is made of filo pastry filled with nuts and steeped in Attar syrup (orange or rose water or sugar) or honey. It is usually cut into triangular or diamond shapes.
  •  Syria - baklava is prepared from phyllo dough sheets, butter, walnuts and sugar syrup. It is cut into lozenge pieces.

To learn more about Greek cuisine (and other country's cuisine) please contact us and check out all the wonderful recipes, tips, and tricks!