Today I’m sharing the recipe for a Greek dessert that’s famous the world over: Baklava. There is a good chance you’ve seen Baklava in a local pastry shop, gourmet shop, or someone’s home over the years. Even though it is Greek in origin it is found all around the globe. My family has always made it at home, and we made trays at our Greek restaurant as well. Today I’m sharing our favorite recipe for it so you too can make it for your family, no matter where you live .
The principle of Baklava is that it’s layers of buttered phyllo with a flavorful nut mixture interspersed throughout, baked and then soaked in a spiced simple syrup. As you’ll see here, the recipe is involved and there is a lot of resting time, but the end result is worth it. There are many, many variations on Baklava, but the general concept is still the same. I always use walnuts and almonds in my nut mixture because I like the flavor. Some people might use pistachios, pine nuts, or anything else they think tastes incredible. There is no wrong way to do it!
One of the most time-consuming parts of making Baklava is buttering the phyllo. It is essential that every single layer is thoroughly coated in melted butter. This ensures that the phyllo gets crispy in the oven and the steam from the evaporating water in the butter creates the air pockets between each layer of dough. Be generous with the butter, you can’t go wrong! After the Baklava is baked, allow it to cool completely before pouring the warm syrup. Conversely, if the Baklava is still warm from the oven, the syrup you pour over it must be room temperature or cooler. It is critical that one of the ingredients in warm and the other is cool in order to ensure the syrup will be completely absorbed by the phyllo.
I always find letting the Baklava rest and absorb all the syrup is the hardest part. I always want to eat some! However, letting the syrup absorb Is key to finishing the recipe perfectly. One the phyllo soaks up all the yummy syrup it is ready to serve!
This is one of the most well-known Greek dessert. You find it all around the world. There are many variations on it, but this I make it in my family, and we always served it at our restaurant.
9 x 13 pan | 24 pcs
2 boxes #7 phyllo (24 sheets)
3 cups Walnuts toasted
3 cups almonds toasted
¼ tsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Sugar
¼ ground Cloves
4 tbsp Butter (1/2 stick) melted
1 pack (4 cookies) Belvita Cookies (cinnamon brown sugar) ** secret ingredient
2 sticks for phyllo
24 whole cloves
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Lemon peel that’s about 1.5”
½ cup of honey
¼ tsp vanilla extract * secret ingredient
Make the Filling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Add the nuts, spices, sugar and melted butter to the large bowl of a food processor. Process it until it’s a fine consistency, like a coarse sand.
Melt the remaining two sticks of butter in a pan on the stovetop, allow to cool slightly.
Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish.
Assemble the Baklava
Divide the phyllo into thirds. Place 1 sheet of the phyllo on the bottom and up the sides of the pan, allowing it to hang over the sides, and butter the top. Repeat with the first 1/3 of the phyllo sheets, generously buttering every single layer.
Spread ½ of the nut mixture evenly over the top of the phyllo.
Add another layer of phyllo and repeat the process of butter and phyllo layers until the second third of phyllo sheets are used up. Evenly distribute the remaining nut mixture on top.
Repeat the process one more time with the remaining 1/3 of the phyllo sheets. Butter the top of the phyllo. Take a sharp knife and cut off the excess phyllo overhang. Tuck any leftover sides of
the phyllo down into the baking dish along the sides.
Cut the phyllo into 12 even squares. Then cut them into triangles so there are 24 triangles. Place a whole clove into the top of each triangle to hold the phyllo together.
Bake the baklava for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and baked completely through.
Complete the Baklava
While it’s baking make the syrup.
To make the syrup add all the ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Warm it until the sugar is completely dissolved. Carefully remove the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, and cloves and discard.
Once the baklava is baked and toasted brown set it aside and let it cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Once it’s cooled down rewarm the syrup to be hot and pour it evenly over the entire pan of baklava so it absorbs completely and drizzles down the side of the pan and between the triangles. Let it sit for about 2 hours to allow the syrup to completely absorb into the phyllo. Serve.
Store baklava covered at room temperature.
A Note about the Phyllo: Phyllo is always stored in the freezer. I transfer it to the refrigerator less than 24 hours before I’m going to use it. Then, I bring it to room temperature the morning I plan to bake with it. To make it pliable right before buttering it I microwave it for 30 seconds.
In this episode I use phyllo #7, but the rule of the thumb with this recipe, no matter what number you are using, is to divide the phyllo into thirds.
Nikki Glekas is the owner of Nikki Glekas Events, a full-service catering and events company located in Stamford, CT. She is currently operating with COVID-safe procedures and is happy to discuss your event and catering needs with you. To discuss further please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203.658.8659.