Classic baklava recipe, the traditional Greek pastry made with ground nuts, layers of phyllo and drizzled with honey syrup.
I’ve had baklava now and then over the years, sometimes good, sometimes not so much. In other words, not a huge fan, just kind of neutral. But if you’ve ever had really good baklava, it’s a game changer. And good baklava is a labor of love to make at home, but so worth it. Especially with an authentic Greek family recipe.
My co-worker friend is Greek Orthodox and an excellent cook. She kindly shared a few of her family recipes with me. Her pastitsio is fabulous and the first recipe I made of hers, find that recipe here. I’ve now made her baklava and wow, so damn good! It’s just the best I’ve ever had.
Baklava is layers of ground nuts and phyllo dough drizzled with a spiced honey syrup after it’s done baking. This stuff is sweet but not too sweet, the syrup is perfectly flavored with lemon, honey and cinnamon. Traditionally, walnuts are used but I used pecans. You can also use almonds or pistachios, or even a combination of nuts. You’re the boss, apple sauce.
Phyllo dough can be found in the freezer section at the store. This is the labor of love part. It’s paper thin and delicate and you work with one piece at a time, brushing with melted butter and then layering with more sheets of phyllo. Just go with the flow and be patient. You will be rewarded, trust me.
How to make baklava
- Make the simple syrup.
- Let it cool completely.
- Grind the nuts.
- Toss with sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
- Brush each layer of phyllo with melted butter.
- Spread with ⅓ of the nut mixture.
- Repeat layering.
- Score into diamonds (hopefully better than I did!)
- Stud with whole cloves in the center of each diamond.
After it’s done baking, pour the cooled honey syrup all over the hot baklava, it’ll make a sizzle sound and this is what gives it the crispy flakiness. Then let it all cool and enjoy! My kids love the baklava sundaes at the Greek festivals here in the summertime. No judging here if you crumble a few over vanilla ice cream. Thanks Flora for sharing this with me, spanakopita is up next ~ Kelly
If you’ve tried this Greek Baklava, please rate it below in the comments and let me know how it went ~ I love hearing from you! HUNGRY FOR MORE? Subscribe to my Newsletter and come hang out with me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK for all the latest updates.
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 8 ounces honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1½ pounds walnuts, toasted or pecans, almonds or pistachios
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground cloves
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 pound package of phyllo dough thawed
- 1 pound unsalted butter, melted
- Whole cloves
- Over low heat, bring sugar, water and cinnamon sticks to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and liquid turns clear.
- Boil for 15 minutes and as soon as you see bubbles, stir constantly. The color will change to a cinnamon-brownish as it cooks.
- Remove from heat and remove two cinnamon sticks. Stir in honey and lemon juice and a few lemon slices, seeds removed. Set pot aside to cool completely.
- In food processor, coarsely grind nuts (about 10 pulses). Put in bowl and toss with sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves, set aside.
- Butter bottom and sides of 9" by 13" pan. Preheat oven to 375º
- Unroll phyllo dough and if necessary, cut to fit pan. Cover dough with damp towel while working to keep it from drying out. Layer bottom with 6 sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet. Spread ⅓ of nut mixture (about 2 cups) evenly over layered phyllo. Top nut mixture with 3 more buttered layers of phyllo.
- Repeat 2 more times with nuts and phyllo, for a total of 3 alternating layers. Use 7-8 sheets of phyllo for the top layer. Pre-cut into diamond-shape but don't cut all the way through to bottom layer, just a deep score.
- Place one clove in center of each piece of baklava. Lightly sprinkle pan of baklava with cold water. Bake at 375º for 30 minutes and then turn down heat to 350º and bake another 30 minutes until evenly golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let stand for two minutes. Pour/spoon cooled syrup over hot baklava. Let cool completely and enjoy!
- I like to toast the the nuts first in the oven, then cool and coarsely grind.
- Always pour cool syrup over hot baklava for the best results, it's the proper technique for that flaky crispiness!
- I did not use all the simple syrup, most, but not all.
- Remove whole cloves before serving/eating.
Here's a recap of the baklava layers:
6 layers buttered phyllo, ⅓ nut mixture
3 layers buttered phyllo, ⅓ nut mixture
3 layers buttered phyllo, ⅓ nut mixture
7-8 layers buttered phyllo, cut into diamonds