An impressive and gorgeous dessert …
I remember trying my first bite of Baklava when I was about 13. In order to remember the name, I kept repeating Baklava over and over to myself just so I wouldn’t forget it and that’s when I found out how fun it was to say. In my own little world, I could speak the Greek language fluently after that, ha.
I’ve always enjoyed learning about different cultures and the foods that they would eat, and by far Greek food is at the top of my favorites list. Greek inspired foods are so beautiful and full of so much flavor, of course the basis of their recipes have been around for an incredible amount of time and have stood the test of time and perfected.
My daughter’s class has been studying Greek history and mythology, so I did what any foodie mom would do, I offered to bring a treat in to share with her class. Yah. I opted to make Baklava, something, to be honest, that I didn’t think the children would enjoy, but to my surprise, the majority finished it off and thought it was tasty yummy. Now they think I’m cool, and that’s always fun.
You should approach this recipe as a form of therapy, if not for the act of prepping than at least as a reward for your effort in making such a brilliant dessert. It can take a while to prep the Baklava (not going to sugar coat it), but it is completely worth it. The more you make Baklava, the faster the prep time will become.
Baklava is a beautiful gift from the kitchen and can go a long way. Also if you have the time and a bake sale or fundraiser is approaching, Baklava would be a great dessert to make, so plan ahead and give it a go.
Some things I’ve learned along the way:
- If you have young children, get them engaged in a really long activity that doesn’t require your attention every 10 minutes or better still get them involved.
- Make the honey sauce before the prepping of the pastry, you can even make it the night before and keep it refrigerated.
- Don’t let the pastry dry out, avoid this by covering the phyllo (filo) dough with a slightly damp NOT wet cloth, if your cloth is too wet, your dough will stick to itself…if the pastry dries out, it will crumble – go with a damp cloth, trust me.
- Don’t skip toasting the nuts!
- Share, there will be plenty. 😉
Baklava, a gorgeous tasting dessert. Layers of phyllo (filo) pastry filled with honey and toasted nuts.
- 1 (16 oz) pkg. Phyllo (filo) dough
- 1 cup Butter, melted
- 16 oz Walnuts, chopped and toasted (can also use almonds or pistachios)
- 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 cup Honey
- Zest of 1/2 a large Orange, plus extra for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9x13x2 inch pan with parchment paper or butter the bottoms and sides of pan (I prefer using parchment paper so it can be lifted out easily).
For the Syrup:
- Start with the syrup before prepping the pastry.
- In a small saucepan, heat the Water, Sugar, Honey, Vanilla & Orange Zest over medium heat, cook until Sugar dissolves, then reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook 15 - 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Can be made the night before and kept refrigerated.
For the Nuts:
- Spread the chopped nuts on a baking sheet and dust with Cinnamon, shake it around a bit and even the layer out. Bake in the pre-heated oven 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and set aside.
- Unroll the Phyllo (Filo) pastry and cover with a damp (not wet) clean towel to prevent the dough from drying out and crumbling.
- In a prepared pan, start with your first 2 sheets of dough, brush a light layer of melted Butter over (do not soak the dough with butter as this will make your Baklava soggy).
- Add 2 sheets more, brush with Butter and continue until you have 8 - 10 sheets layered.
- Now evenly sprinkle about 2 Tbls of the chopped, toasted Walnuts over the buttered layer of dough.
- Layer with 2 more sheets of Dough, Butter and Walnuts repeating until all but about 8 - 10 sheets of dough remain.
- Finish off with layering 2 sheets of Dough then Butter. Repeat until you have layered the remaining pastry.
- Brush the last layer of Pastry with Butter, then lightly garnish with Orange Zest.
- With a sharp knife, cut on the diagonal into diamond shapes, cutting to within a 1/4 inch from the bottom.
- Bake in pre-heated 350°F oven (325°F if your oven is "hotter" than average) for 50 - 60 minutes or until lightly golden on top. (I prefer a very light golden color so that the bottom does not over cook).
- Remove from oven, then immediately spoon cooled Honey syrup all over.
- Allow to completely cool. Then finish by cutting the rest of the way through Baklava.
- Enjoy and Serve.
Paper cupcake cases are perfect for serving ... Baklava is sticky.To prevent it from losing its crispiness, do not cover with plastic wrap. Depending on the brand you buy, your Phyllo (Filo) sheets can either be extra large and double the size of your pan or about 8 x 10 inch in size. If they are extra large, treat each sheet as 2 and simply double the layer. If smaller than your pan, just layer and cover as needed by cutting and "filling" in the gaps. It doesn't matter how they go on, because you will be slicing them into pieces. Will make 2 dozen large diamond portions. If smaller portions are desired, after baking cut each diamond in half and voila - you have about 4 dozen small portions!
Stacey is a Southern girl with a taste for travel, thriving on the discovery of the world through food. After spending many years traveling and living overseas, she’s now back home in her beloved deep south enjoying life with her three little ones and loving the adventure. She’s a food stylist and food photographer, as well as, the creative behind Little Figgy Food, where she loves to inspire others to try new flavors and foodie techniques.