This Greek baklava, a Middle-Eastern dessert, is made from layers of phyllo or filo pastry which is filled with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, and butter and soaked in a honey syrup.
One of my most memorable experiences ever is walking along a back street in a Greek town decades ago and following an aroma of intoxicating sweetness until I happened upon its origins. There at the house with an open door was a frail and wrinkled grandmother hauling sheet pans of baklava out of the oven. Needless to say the crackly shards of phyllo drenched with honey was the best baklava I’d ever experienced. This recipe may not be hers, and it may not transport you to the Greek isles, but it will satiate something deep in your soul. Originally published April 24, 2004.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Greek Baklava Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 1 H, 45 M
- Makes 16 to 18 1 1/2-inch pieces
- For the syrup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- For the filling
- 2 cups walnuts, finely chopped but not pulverized
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- For the pastry
- 1/2 pound phyllo dough
- Make the syrup
- 1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced, about 12 minutes. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use. (The syrup should be at room temperature and still pourable when ready to use; if cooled too much, reheat slightly.)
- Make the filling
- 2. In a bowl, mix together the walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar. Set aside.
- Make the baklava
- 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some of the butter.
- 4. Place a layer of phyllo in the bottom of the dish, cover with another layer, and brush the top with butter. Add another layer (2 sheets), brushing the top with butter, and then another layer, brushing the top with butter, until you have a stack 6 sheets high. Spread 1/3 of the filling evenly over the phyllo.
- 5. Layer and butter another 6 sheets in the same way. Spread another 1/3 of the filling over it. Layer and butter another 6 sheets in the same way and spread with the final third of the filling, so that you wind up with 3 nut layers.
- 6. Top the final nut layer with the remaining 6 fillo sheets, buttering every other one as above. Finally, brush the top layer of fillo with butter.
- 7. With a sharp knife, cut through all the layers down to the bottom of the dish, making 16 to 18 diamond or 1 1/2-inch square sections. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Pour the remaining butter across the top and continue baking until pale golden and crispy, about 25 minutes.
- 8. Remove and set aside for 5 minutes, until no longer sizzling. While still warm, tilt the pan and pour off the excess butter. Pour the syrup in between the cuts and around the edges of the sections, taking care to avoid the top or else it will get soggy. Set aside at room temperature until completely cool.
- 9. To serve, lift out the pieces as outlined. Serve right away or cover and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.