What is Baklava?
What is Baklava? Baklava is a traditional dessert from the eastern Mediterranean basin, and is especially prevalent in Greece and Turkey, but also the Caucuses and the Middle East. There is no consensus about where or when it originated, but some date it back almost 3000 years! The ingredients can change slightly, but they always include phyllo (or filo) sheets, chopped nuts, some type of sweet syrup, and some type of oil (usually butter).
You can make this delicious dessert yourself on one of our cooking vacations in Greece or in Turkey. During our Greek Gastronomy on Santorini cooking vacation you can even make your own phyllo pastry! It’s easy enough to make at home as well. I make it with the help of my kids, who love the sticky goodness of it.
- 1 package phyllo dough, thawed according to package instructions
- 1 lb nuts, finely chopped (walnuts or pistachios are our favorites)
- 1 c. butter, unsalted and high quality
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/2 c honey
- 1 c sugar
- 1 T lemon juice
- 3/4 c water
Bring phyllo sheets to room temperature before starting. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Make the syrup by combining the water, honey, sugar, and lemon juice, heating until all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside and let cool slightly before using.
Mix the nuts and the cinnamon.
Melt the butter.
Layer 8 layers of phllyo in the pan, brushing each layer with butter before adding the next. (Keep the rest of the phyllo covered with a damp towel to keep it from drying out).
Sprinkle with 1/2 to 3/4 c. of the nuts.
Cover with 4 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with butter.
Repeat these layers until the nuts are gone, making the top layer at least 8 buttered phyllo sheets.
Cut the baklava before baking. To achieve the classic diamond shape, cut horizontal strips, then cut diagonally.
Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and top with syrup. Cool to room temperature.
By Peg Kern
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