Dessert/ Greek Classics/ Holiday Recipes/ Thanksgiving

Greek Baklava

The king of all Greek desserts, Baklava! My trick makes delicious baklava super simple and easy.

 

 

 

Greek baklava is a well known traditional Greek dessert. It’s so simple to make, and just has a few ingredients. Surprisingly, most Greek desserts are very basic like this with just a few ingredients. 

Let’s go over what you’ll need:

  • Honey syrup
  • Ground Almonds
  • Ground Walnuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground clove powder
  • 1 pound thawed phyllo pastry
  • Unsalted butter

The Honey Syrup

Before you get started, you’ll need to make a simple honey syrup. I like to use Greek honey because there is nothing like it. If you’re making this dessert and you can’t find it nearby or online, here’s the link where you can get it on Amazon. It’s caramel-like in texture, has hints of thyme in the background because thyme grows wild in Greece, and I just haven’t had anything else that compares in flavor. 

Another tip on honey is in the measuring. Honey is kind of tricky because it’ll stick to your measuring cups. What I like to do is grease a cup with a little bit of olive oil. I just take a clean measuring cup and pour some olive oil in there. Swirl it around and just put it back into the bottle. Measure the honey in the measuring cup and it just slides right out without anything sticking.

Combine sugar, water, honey, and lemon juice in a saucepot. Bring to a boil and stir until everything is melted. Take the pot off the heat to cool completely. 

Nuts for Baklava filling

Typically, baklava has walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts, but I really like the combination of walnuts and almonds. I toast the walnuts before using them to really bring out their flavor. Just spread them on a baking sheet and roast them in a 350℉ oven for about 5-7 minutes. Then I put the walnuts and almonds in the food processor and grind them until they are just coarsely ground. 

For you’re filling, you can get fancy. Just add some orange zest or lemon zest. But you don’t have to since the nuts and spices already have a punch of flavor. 

Best phyllo to use for baklava

Choose a #4 phyllo. What that means is that the phyllo layers are super thin and there’s a lot of it. Try not to use the country phyllo because that doesn’t really work with this recipe.

Make sure that your phyllo has thawed completely in the refrigerator overnight. You can’t work with frozen phyllo. Take it out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before you’re going to use it so it comes to room temperature. It will be much easier to work with this way. 

Cut your phyllo to fit the dish that you’re using. This will allow your phyllo to fit your pan without any hanging over. If you’re using a 9X13 dish, you can generally just cut your sheets in half to make this work. 

Layering baklava

This is a really simple way to layer your baklava because we aren’t going to butter every layer of phyllo. We made thousands of baklava at the cafe, and this recipe never failed. You just start by setting aside 4 layers of phyllo for the top. Cover it with a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out. If you think this may take a while, you can add a damp towel on top of the dry one.

Butter the bottom of your dish well, and add 4 phyllo sheets in the bottom. At this point, you layer your filling, then 2-3 phyllo sheets continuously until your phyllo runs out. Dump the last of your filling on top and cover it with the reserved 4 phyllo sheets.

Take a super sharp knife and cut your baklava into the shapes you like. That way you don’t have to try to cut it after it bakes, which sometimes makes the phyllo look messy.

The bakers trick

After your baklava is built and cut, use the bakers trick I learned. You just pour the melted butter over your baklava making sure to hit all of the seams and sides. The butter will seep through and get into every single layer. No more buttering each layer! Then, just take a little water and drip it around the edges so the phyllo stays down and doesn’t curl up while baking.

If you’d like to add a little embellishment, you can add a whole clove to the top of each section of baklava right before you put it in the oven. It’s another way to make it fancy.

Finishing your baklava

As soon as your baklava comes out of the oven, pour your honey syrup all over it. It will make a beautiful sizzle sound. Then generously sprinkle over lots of ground cinnamon. Leave it alone for about 3 hours or until all of the syrup is absorbed. 

So delicious. The layers are so buttery without all the layering. The nuts are perfectly seasoned with the cinnamon and cloves. It will keep in your refrigerator for over a week… if it lasts that long!

Try my other desserts made with phyllo! Pistachio baklava rolls, Trigona Panoramatos (Greek-style cream-filled phyllo cones), and Greek-style pumpkin baklava triangles.

 

Greek Baklava

Greek Baklava

Yield: 24 pieces

The king of all Greek desserts, Baklava! My trick makes delicious baklava super simple and easy.

Ingredients

  • 1-pound (#4) phyllo pastry, thawed and at room temperature
  • ¾ pound unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 cups coarsely ground walnuts
  • 2 cups coarsely ground toasted almonds
  • 2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves

For the syrup:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 and ½ cups Greek honey
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of half lemon

Garnish:

  • ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
  2. Make the syrup:Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Mix well and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Set aside.
  4. Take the phyllo out of its packaging and unroll it. Lay it flat onto a cutting board or clean work surface. Place a baking dish over the phyllo and cut the sheets to fit the inside of the pan.
  5. Note:I usually cut my phyllo roll into 2 equal stacks to fit a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
  6. Brush the bottom of the baking pan with butter and lay 4 sheets over it. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture over top.
  7. Take 4 -5 sheets of phyllo and set them aside for the top of the baklava. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel.
  8. Layer 2 sheets of phyllo in the pan and sprinkle some nut filling over top. Continue this pattern of 2 phyllo sheets and nuts until all of the nuts mixture and phyllo are used. Place the reserved 4 sheets of phyllo on top.
  9. Cut the baklava into 24 squares or diamond shaped pieces.
  10. Pour all of the melted butter over top and sprinkle some water (about 3 tablespoons) over the edges of the baklava.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until golden brown on top.
  12. Remove from the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the baklava.
  13. Set aside and allow the baklava to absorb all of the syrup. About 4 hours.
  14. Serve alongside some Greek coffee.
  15. Enjoy!

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Anna
    May 20, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Dimitra. how big of a cup do u use for this recipe?

    • Reply
      dimitra
      May 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Hi Anna! It’s the standard American measuring cup. I have started adding the metric measurements to my recipes 🙂 Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Bill L
    May 25, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Despite botching a couple steps with my first attempt, this ended up looking and tasting pretty good! I accidentally combined the syrup and nut mixture together, and recovered by straining it. So my syrup was quite cloudy, but I don’t think it hurt anything in the end. I was a little lost on how thin to make the nut layers, too, and probably overdid it because I only had 3 layers of nuts and a lot of phyllo left over. I think maybe the thickness of the nut layers is a personal preference anyway, as well as the coarseness of the grind. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and especially the tips about the butter and cutting!

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