Baklava (Μπακλαβάς)

img_4201Finally…a baklava recipe and some background and opinion on this dessert, popular all around the world.

The origins of Baklava can be traced to Turkey (which is fine by me) and rather than focus on the differences between Greeks and Turks, I try and focus on the similarities between the two peoples.

Relations between the Greeks and Turks have in no way been harmonious but we are neighboring countries, both passionate and we share an affinity for similar foods. I saw this similarity when I visited Istanbul (Constantinople) 1997.

Baklava is enjoyed all around the world and I’ve seen it made by Greeks, Turks, Syrians, Lebanese and other nations in the Middle-East and Near-East. Each baklava has it’s own defining “touch” to it. img_4194

Many of the Greek Baklavas use walnuts in the filling, the Turks leaning towards pistachios, the Lebanese liking a dryer version, the Greeks like to douse it in the syrup and the Turks, proudly using lots of butter in their baklava process.

Here’s where the Greeks can lay some ownership to Baklava: Phyllo is synonymous with Greek cuisine, right? Greeks were the first to employ the use of phyllo in making baklava. In the original Turkish version of Baklava, yufka-leaves were used. Yufka were thin, unleavened flats of pastry but nowhere hear as thin as the hand-rolled and see-through Greek phyllo.

I encourage you to make Baklava, it’s really not that hard. Again, buy your phyllo from a store with a high turnover (that means fresh, easy to work with phyllo), thaw it overnight in the fridge before using), be organized with your ingredients (mise en place) and work quickly.

Here, my family’s version uses chopped walnuts, almonds and some ground rusk as a binder. You may use an other nut of choice, add some dried fruit into the mix, cut your baklava into your preferred shape. As stated before, some Greeks like their baklava very syrupy  – this one is not one of those.

Do not be intimidated by phyllo, it really is an easy pastry to work with and the applications with both savory and sweet dishes will open up your cooking repertoire. Why not start with Baklava?img_4199

Baklava (Μπακλαβάς)

one 10″X12″ baking vessel (about 2 inches deep)

pre-heated 300F oven (middle rack)

1 package of commercial phyllo (454gr.)

(thawed overnight in the fridge)

1 cup of melted , clarified butter

Filling

2 cups of walnuts

2 cups of roasted & skinned almonds

1/2 tsp. ground clove

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 Tbsp. sugar

3/4 cup of ground rusk

Syrup

1 cup of water

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 cup of honey

juice of 1/4 lemon

  1. In a food processor, pulse your walnuts, almonds into a crumbly, grainy consistency. Now ground your rusks and add into a bowl with the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside. Take your phyllo out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (15 minutes). Pre-heat your oven and have melted butter ready.img_4133
  2. Grease your baking pan with your choice of vegetable oil. Lay four sheets of phyllo overhanging halfway over each of the four sides. Now place one sheet of phyllo to directly into the pan (total of 5 phyllo sheets). Remember to brush melted butter between each sheet of phyllo. img_4134
  3. Sprinkle a layer of filling over the area of phyllo. Repeat each layer (4 sheets of phyllo) followed by equal amounts of nut filling (5 phyllo sheets bottom + 4 sheets X 3 layers + 4-5 sheets of phyllo for top layer).img_4136
  4. Now fold in those overhanging flaps from the bottom layer of phyllo. Now place the remaining sheets of phyllo to finish your top layer (folding the phyllo to fit the dimensions of your baking vessel is perfectly fine).img_4138-1
  5. Brush your top layer of phyllo with a good coating of melted butter. Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo into your desired shaped for the pieces of Baklava (important to do this step before baking). Insert whole cloves into the center of each piece (optional). Bake in your pre-heated oven for 90 minutes or until light brown.img_4140-1
  6. Prepare your syrup by adding your water, sugar, honey and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Now add your lemon juice and bring to a boil then simmer for another 10 minutes.img_4152-1
  7. There are two ways to introduce the syrup to your Baklava: hot baklava and cold syrup or cold baklava and hot syrup – it’s your choice. My family prefers hot baklava and cold syrup. Use a ladle to pour the syrup over the entire surface of the Baklava.img_4191
  8. Allow to cool before serving and to allow the syrup to penetrate the entire dessert. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (NEVER place in the fridge).img_4197

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© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

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Peter Minakis

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78 Comments for “Baklava (Μπακλαβάς)”

says:

Peter, I’ve always wanted to make baklava–it’s one of my favorite desserts. It does look a bit labor intensive, but I’m sure is well, well worth it. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the great pictures.

says:

Ah the power of Twitter. I love this version, as I love walnuts, love it not too syrupy…& love the presentation Peter. Was stupidly expecting, in a small way, that you might have rolled the phyllo from scratch…stupid, yes!No phyllo here, though I have a recipe bookmarked…one day!! Beautiful step-by-step pics & background info too! :0)

says:

Your baklava looks fantastic! I always have to make my own because I don’t eat nuts. I usually use a mix of dried fruits and/or chocolate.

says:

lovely post, great photos, and photo directions. I am always interested to see how baklava is made around the world, tasty in all its variations. Is the addition of cloves a Greek tradition? The origin of Baklava will forever be a topic of debate I think, and something I posted about recently. Cheers

says:

This is one of my favourite middle eastern desserts, should i say greek ;-)
Never made them home, just bought from the shops.
Looks so delicouslu sweet and yummy.

says:

Great write up on the history and I learned a lot.

Also, I really like the addition of cloves that yours has. Cloves are so underutilized and misunderstood.

Nicely done!

says:

This is one of my favorite sweet things to eat, & something which i do not readily share with anyone:-) pass on to me some..

thanks for the step by step pictures, I do have some phyllo sheets at home & getting very tempted to make some.

says:

Peter!

Lovely recipe!!! I NEVER ever had any luck with wrapping anything in phyllo dough. I might buy the wrong stuff.

Suspecting you live in the North American continent, do you have any brand name preference on phyllo dough?

thanks,
gabi @ Mamaliga.

says:

Gabi,

I’ve used Krinos, Phoenicia and Kontos commercial phyllo with success. Again, buy some phyllo from a shop that sells a lot of it. That’s a good way of ensuring fresh, easy to work with phyllo.

says:

Now you have the song running through my head: “Isthanbul not Constantinople. Isthanbul not Constantinople…”

I can just taste this by looking at it. I love baklava. I think phyllo is the awesomest pastry out there too.

says:

baklava is one of those deserts i always find too sweet, even though i am greek (i prefer galactoboureko)

but it’s a favorite desert even in crete, from what i see in the display cases of the zaharoplastiea

says:

Peter – THANKS! AHA! That’s a good sign indeed that it is fresh!

Also how “fresh” is fresh? I can probably check the “Sell By” stamp on it. Maybe 1 week old is fairly fresh?

Thanks!
Gabi.

says:

I love baklava and it was my first phyllo experience–much easier to approach than I had thought originally. It looks great and I love the plating!

says:

OMG I love baklava … since I have to lose this “ahem” winter weight I have not been baking .. I can drool over your luscious desert without gaining a pound :)

says:

Peter, some baklavas are too sweet for me so I will enjoy this one…your texture is also loose and crumbly…..I like that!! Beautiful pictures…my favorite is the 2nd last one!!!

says:

Peter I cannot express how grateful I am for you making this dessert and posting it. This is truly a joy to discover how to make this famous dish. Bookmarked!

says:

So now those walnuts I’ve been collecting from my trees have found a proper home… love Baklava – appreciate a really good recipe. Many thanks!

says:

Wonderful recipe! Will bookmark because I have been looking for a good baklava recipe, think I am doing a Greek Supper Club this May?? I have never used rusks before so this is new to me. Where can I even find them? Love the detail in the photo with the fork “shadow” too. Very nice.

says:

I tried a number of versions while in Greece Peter and would love to have the opportunity to try a version in the other countries you mentioned as well.

says:

Well said about the food similarities between the Greeks and Turks…I like how this version utilises ground rusks…very clever!

says:

Your baklava looks perfect and your pictures are exquisite. I haven’t made it in years but you make me want to dig out my recipe too. I use oranges and lemons in the syrup. I like those little cloves studding the tops.

says:

Oh man Peter, you have me drooling. I love baklava and yours looks exceptional. I love the photos with the powdered fork – too cool.

says:

too good! i love baklava always have and am looking forward to doha because of the variety of baklava we’ll get there!

says:

Oh how I love baklava! My aunt makes it with hazelnuts and almonds and makes a very lemony syrup. Just gorgeous.

I have also had baklava icecream which was just divine.

says:

baklava RULES. it’s up there among the best desserts in my eyes, and sometimes i’m convinced it’s tip-top. great creation, and i’m loving the fork art. :)

says:

Wow Peter! thanks for this fantastic post: the recipe is amazing and the text is very informative. You often find, with typical Middle Easter recipes that people write these bitter posts about who’s right, where it came from, how the rest of the world is doing it wrong except for them, etc. I like that you highlighted the points that make it Greek, but recognised its most likely origin. I’m half Lebanese, so I like mine a little drier, very aromatic and with some dried fruit. I will try your version, however, as I think this is an infinitely adaptable dessert and I enjoy different varieties!
Thanks for sharing your family’s recipe :)

says:

I love baklava and have been afraid to make it because of the phyllo. Don’t hate me for that…maybe I’ll get brave and throw caution to the wind = )

says:

I’ve never had it before, but this is one of those desserts that make me hungry just by looking at the pictures. Thanks for the background on baklava. I have learned something new today, yay!

says:

I’m not a fan of comments that just say, “Yum, that looks delicious,” but, “Yum! This really DOES look delicious!” I so need to make this soon. No wonder my stepdaughter is dating a Greek—she must be after his Baklava ;)

P.S.
Thought you might like to know—I FINALLY found a Middle Eastern market here in KC. While it’s not exclusively Greek, they do carry Greek products and I’m tickled over this discovery.

says:

Baklava is one of my favorite desserts. I love both the Turkish and Greek version – they are very close yet slightly different. Yours looks so delicious!

says:

I’ve been armed with all the ingedients to make Baklava for a couple of weeks now and just haven’t got round to it. Yours looks dee-lish Peter. I will have to get making it!

says:

geeez. I know that sounds immature, but seriously the way you made this it looks perfect. You know how some baklava’s are greasy on the bottom or soggy on the top or both?
Not this one. You are inspiring me to try this. I’m always so afraid of it turning out too greasy on the bottom.
Seriously, nice job here.

says:

I love the decoration with the fork… a brilliant idea :D

Still have to try Baklava and you make it sound easy and delicious… one of these days ;D

says:

This is just gorgeous. I’ve always been afraid of making my own baklava, but you make it look so easy! I will have to try it.

says:

Being Armenian – Lebanese I think my mom makes the best (really the best) Baklava!! I think this recipe looks pretty darn good. I don’t know how to make Baklava so might actually try this myself!

Nikon

says:

you can eat the best of baklava in southeast cities of turkey as antep, hatay, maraÅŸ… also syria and lebannon.

Debra Schweitzer Bergeron

says:

So many recipes don’t call for using rusk in the filling but my grandmother’s did. When I made my baklava this year it just didn’t come out the same…and my baklava has always been consistent. This was the first year in my small town of Gilford, NH that I could not find rusk or zweiback. It was very frustrating to have the filling crumbly. Does anyone have any suggestions?

says:

Deborah, try making your own rusk or coarse bread crumbs. Pulse in your food processor until a coarser bread crumb than what you would find in the market and then place in a pre-heated 300F oven for 30 minutes and then turn off the oven and allow the crumbs to cool inside. These might do the trick.

says:

I love baklava & recently had some when I was in Kusadasi in July. My Mom used to make this once & while way back in the ’70’s. It was always a treat but I do recall Mom using pistachios & lots of honey syrup.

says:

I have an Egyptian friend who makes baklava in less than 10 minutes; she crumples it like kleenex and it still comes out beautiful; I enlisted her help during my first ( and last) attempt at catering for 125 folks. Anyway, so you say the Greeks invented it? I say the Phoenicians did.

Arty

says:

Obviously baklava strikes a chord among the Greeks and those who celebrate the Holidays with Greek cooking. So, I too have to add my two cents. I remember the making of baklava some fifty years ago in my mother’s home town of Galaxidi. The undertaking took several days starting with breaking the almonds one by one on the bottom of a havani and separating the meat from the shells. After blanching the almonds were put through a meat grinder with ground roasted chick peas so the filling would not stick. Sugar and cinnamon were added and long sheets of phillo were cut to fit the special baklava pan. A round copper pan that was preserved for this use. The wealthier the family the larger the pan. After layering phillo and almond filling the baklava was scored carefully starting from the center in a pattern that resembled the spokes of a wheel and then cut in diamond shaped pieces and a clove was inserted in each piece.
Hot sheep’s butter was poured over to scald the baklava. There were two rules for the best baklava: It had to be tall almost to the edge of the pan and it had to be light in color For that purpose it was placed in a very slow oven so the phillo and filling were roasted through and through and the phyllo was crisp but still very light in color.
The blend of aromas from the slow roasting of that butter and nut filling with its cinnamon and cloves is still one of my most cherished memories.

Amanda

says:

What an inspiration your website is, to start cooking!! I’ve just recently started dating a Greek man…so gotta start impressing with my non-excisting cooking skills…I lived in Plomari, Lesvos for some time, absolutely adore Greek food…and Greek men for that matter!!

Thanks, your recipes are great!!