Baklava

Store-bought phyllo dough makes it easy to put this traditional baklava together. With layers of phyllo filled with honey, nuts and warm spices, this recipe makes enough for a crowd that will thank you for your efforts!

Baklava
Elise Bauer

Have I ever mentioned that I'm a baklava addict?

It's true, I have a problem and should be taken to the Betty Crocker Clinic so I can get help.

Last year I bought a 30 serving pan of the stuff, intent on bringing it to work to share. Four hours later the entire pan was gone and I was a sticky mess. As such, it was only a matter of time before I learned to make my own.

The Origin of Baklava

Baklava is a delicious phyllo pastry popular in Middle Eastern countries. Its supposed origins are Turkish, dating to the Byzantine Empire (or even further), though many cultures claim it for their own.

Many Greek and Lebanese restaurants serve it, and it is now a featured dessert of several former Ottoman countries.

Baklava
Elise Bauer

What is Baklava?

In baklava, layers of crisp phyllo dough alternate with a sugary spiced nut mixture, and the whole thing is then soaked in fragrant sweet syrup made with honey, lemon and cinnamon.

The recipe can be a bit time consuming, and isn't really a first-time baker's recipe, but if you can put together a cake well enough on your own then this is a good next step in your baking education.

Working With Phyllo Dough

The tissue paper-thin phyllo dough is fragile and breaks easily if not handled properly, but the end product is forgiving so don't fret if it all falls apart. My first time I just made a mess of dried out phyllo and butter and the baklava tasted wonderful regardless.

Baklava
Elise Bauer

All families have their own recipe, and this is just one. If you have an interesting take on baklava, please tell us in the comments section!

Baklava in Greece and Beyond

Greek immigrants who came to the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s brought their recipes for baklava with them, and it's through Greek Americans that other Americans learned about the dish.

However, many cultures have some form of baklava in their culinary history, dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. What's likely is that various cultures in Southeastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East all had their own tradition of thin layers of bread/pastry filled with various sweets in between.

Scholars seem divided on exactly where the treat originated, but many point to Turkey or Armenia because the earliest records of the dish exist in those cultures. The version we're familiar with today—thin layers of phyllo filled with nuts, spices, and sugar topped with a honey-sweet syrup—is most likely an amalgamation of what's been passed down from various cultures.

Flaky Fun With Phyllo and Puff Pastry

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Baklava

Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 65 mins
Servings 24 servings

Depending on how thick you make your layers of nuts, you ay not use all the phyllo dough. If you have leftover, use it to make a Tomato Ricotta Tart.

Ingredients

For the baklava:

  • 1 pound chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are best, or use a combination of them)

  • 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed

  • 1 cup butter, melted

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cloves

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • Finely ground pistachios for garnish, optional

Method

  1. Thaw the dough:

    Thaw the phyllo dough according to manufacturer's directions (this may take overnight).

  2. Preheat the oven and prep the pan:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.

  3. Make the filling, melt the butter, and prep the dough:

    In a food processor, pulse the nuts until they are finely chopped.

    In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.

    Roll out the phyllo sheets and cut in half so the sheets will fit in the pan.

    Simple Tip!

    Cover the phyllo with a damp towel to keep from drying out.

  4. Assemble the first layer:

    Place a sheet of phyllo dough into the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Repeat 7 more times until it is 8 sheets thick, each sheet being "painted" with the butter.

  5. Add the filling and continue layering:

    Spoon on a thin layer of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter. Continue to repeat the nut mixture and two buttered sheets of phyllo until the nut mixture is all used up. The top layer should be 8 phyllo sheets thick, each sheet being individually buttered. Do not worry if the sheets crinkle up a bit, it will just add more texture.

  6. Score, then bake:

    Score into 24 equal sized squares using a sharp knife. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly golden brown, and edges appear slightly crisp.

  7. Make the syrup:

    While baking, make the syrup. Combine the cinnamon stick, sugar, lemon juice, honey, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 7 minutes and slightly thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow to cool.

  8. Spoon the syrup over the hot bakalava:

    Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let cool, uncovered, for at least 4 hours.

    Garnish with some finely crushed pistachios of desired.

    Simple Tip!

    Store baklava at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. It will become chewier before it starts to dry out. Once it starts to dry out, it is near the end of its freshness. You can store the baklava in the refrigerator to extend its life, but the texture will be harder once refrigerated.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
313 Calories
21g Fat
30g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 313
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 154mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 106mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.