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Hi Bold Bakers!
Homemade baklava is a right of passage in plenty of homes around the world, and I’m so happy that I finally nailed my own version! If you’re familiar with baklava, you know that the textures of flaky, buttery, phyllo dough become irresistible when paired with sweet, rich layers of chopped nuts. (I love to use pistachios and almonds in mine!)
This pastry becomes perfect, though, with the addition of sweetened syrup. Honey, citrus, warm spices—can’t you just imagine the wonderful smell?!
All those layers of phyllo dough can look intimidating, but assembling baklava is not difficult at all! It comes together quickly, and all those crispy layers are worth it! I always love a dessert you can make ahead, too, and baklava is ideal because as the flavors all sit together, it just ends up tasting even more delicious!
What Is Baklava?
There’s some debate on where baklava actually originates from, and when a dessert is this delicious and engrained in your family history, that’s understandable! It’s popular in places in Mediterranean cuisine, which means you’ll find it in homes in Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Egypt, to name a few. The name may be from Arabic, Turkish, or Greek.
Baklava is a dessert made with nuts, spices, and pie dough, but every area has its different flavoring. Some are sweeter, while others let the spices, like cloves and cardamom, take center stage. The nuts used differ too, and sometimes either orange or rose water is used to give it a delicious flavor and scent.
For this recipe, the nuts I use are pistachios and almonds, and I also make a syrup with orange and lemon peels.
Simply put, the baklava you find in Greece won’t be the same as the baklava you find in Turkey or anywhere else! I took some inspiration from many different baklava recipes and traditions, and I’m really happy with the result!
What You Need To Make Baklava
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 9×9-inch (23x23cm) square baking dish
- Small saucepan
- Food processor
- Kitchen towel
- Pastry brush
How To Make Baklava
Working with phyllo dough and creating all those amazing crispy layers is a lot easier than you would think! You really can’t pass up this delicious recipe!! Here is how you make baklava (and don’t forget to get the full recipe with measurements, on the page down below.):
- First, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a small saucepan, combine the honey, water, sugar, cinnamon stick, orange peels, and lemon peels and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the syrup from the heat and set it aside. (You can make the syrup up to 2 days in advance!)
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves until the nuts are chopped. You want them to be small but not ground.
- Now, set up your workstation! Unroll your phyllo dough and place it under a damp kitchen towel so it does not dry out. Next to it, have your bowl of melted butter and a pastry brush.
- Light brush your 9×9-inch (23x23cm) square baking dish with butter and lay a sheet of phyllo dough in the pan. Fold the edges to fit into the pan, then brush lightly, all over, with butter.
- Add another layer of phyllo dough, fold it to fit, and again brush it with butter. Repeat this process until you have used 8 sheets of phyllo dough.
- Sprinkle 1/4 of the nut mixture onto the dough layers, then top the nuts with two phyllo dough sheets, brushing each sheet with butter after placing it in the pan. Repeat this process until there are 4 layers of nuts, with two layers of phyllo dough in between.
- Top the nuts with the remaining phyllo dough, brushing each layer with butter, including the final layer.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut the baklava into around 20 squares or diamond shapes.
- Bake the baklava for about 1 hour or until the pastry is a deep golden brown.
- Remove the baklava from the oven. Immediately remove the cinnamon stick and the orange and lemon peels from the cold syrup and pour it evenly over the hot baklava. Let the baklava absorb the syrup for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Baklava
- Make the syrup first, so it is cold before you pour it onto the hot baklava. The difference in temperature between the phyllo and syrup is what keeps the layers nice and crispy. I like to make my syrup the day before, or 2 days before!
- As long as you keep the amounts the same, you can use different nuts in this recipe. Try walnuts!
- Try replacing 1 cup (5oz/142g) with an equal amount of finely chopped chocolate or dried fruit for a different twist.
- 2 teaspoons of orange flower water can be added to the syrup if you have some on hand.
- You can eat this baklava after 4 hours, and it will be delicious! But, if you wait a full 24 hours before serving, the syrup will be able to absorb through the layers evenly, and it will be even better!
How Do You Store Baklava
You can store leftover baklava by loosely covering it and keeping it at temperature for up to 3 days.
Make More International Recipes!
And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!
Full (and printable) recipe below!