If you’ve ever eaten baklava, chances are you’d have fallen in love with this simple, yet richly delicious dessert. Drenched in honey syrup, yet crunchy because of the phyllo pastry and nuts, the baklava (or baklawa or baclava) has enthralled the taste buds of people right from the Assyrian Empire as early as 8th century B.C. to across the globe today.
The original version of baklava was unleavened bread topped with nuts and doused with honey. The Ottoman Empire cooks refined it to a more sophisticated version during the 15th century. A cookbook recovered from a palace in the ancient city of Constantinople listed baklava as a favorite dessert, fit for royalty.
Baklava has endured the test of time and it is still one of the most popular desserts in the Middle East, Greece and the Balkans. There are many different baklava recipes and each country has a slightly different recipe: Turkish baklava for example is made with a mix of walnuts and pistachios and a few drops of lemon juice rather than orange juice is added to the syrup.
This fantastic Greek baklava recipe was shared with us by Iman Osman, a super talented Egyptian chef, who has recently published her first cookbook, titled Sweet Love.
Sweet Love is a compilation of classic desserts and bakes handed down from one generation to the next. Stunning photography and step-by-step recipes bring together this collection of both classic and Middle Eastern sweet recipes.
Cooking is how Iman’s Egyptian family connect, sharing and making new memories. Every comforting recipe fosters bonding, love, appreciation, and connection in families through the love of baking. You can find her book on Amazon or order it from Iman’s website.
Enjoy this classic Greek baklava recipe.
How to assemble a baklava
Layer 6 sheets of phyllo pastry on top of each other brushing each sheet with butter before placing another on top. Apply butter on the top sheet.
Spread a cup of the walnut mixture on top of these 6 sheets.
Add another 6 sheets of phyllo, applying butter between each sheet and then spread a cup of walnuts like previously done. Repeat this process till you have a total of
3 layers of walnuts then cover with 6 phyllo pastry sheets and brush the topmost sheet with butter.
Cut into equal squares and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until it turns golden.
For the syrup:
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- juice and zest of 1 orange
- 2 sticks cinnamon
The Baklava filling:
- 2 1/2 cups raw unsalted walnuts
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- 3 tsp cinnamon powder
- 4 cups ghee or unsalted butter, melted
- 2 packs frozen phyllo pastry, thawed in the fridge over night
To make the syrup:
- Prepare the syrup and set aside to cool.
- Place all ingredients together in a pot on high heat until its thickness becomes just a little lesser than the thickness of honey.
To make the Baklava:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
- Prepare a 24 cm (9 in) round baking tray, greasing it with ghee.
- Crush the walnuts in a blender or food processor and put sugar on it, then add cinnamon.
- Mix everything well with a spoon or spatula and set aside.
- In the baking tray, layer 6 sheets of phyllo pastry on top of each other brushing each sheet with ghee before placing another on top. Apply ghee on the top sheet.
- Spread a cup of the walnut mixture on top of these 6 sheets.
- Add another 6 sheets of phyllo, applying ghee between each sheet and then spread a cup of walnuts like previously done.
- Repeat until you have a total of 3 layers of the walnut filling then top with the last 6 layers of phyllo brushing each layer with ghee.
- Cut into equal squares and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until it turns golden.
- Pour the cooled syrup on top of the baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven. Wait until it’s completely cooled to turn it out into your serving platter.
Serving and storing suggestions:
- Baklava is best eaten fresh out of the oven, but it will last for up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Tips and tricks:
- For the syrup, I like to put the juice in and then add the entire orange as well, and when the syrup is ready, I just remove the orange peels. The baklava should be hot and the syrup should be cold when it is poured on it so the baklava remain scrunchy. The beauty of baklava lies in the layering and brushing, so make sure you get the layers right.