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The Classic Baklava

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

Classic Baklava Recipe ☕️ The perfect companion for your cup of coffee. Baklava is a sweet pastry involving beautiful layers of crumbly, buttery phyllo dough stacked between sections of ground walnuts, and once baked - soaked in agda/serbe (sugary (lemon) syrup). The dessert originates from Turkey but has now spread over to the Balkans and Middle East: Greece, Syria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Jordan, Serbia, Lebanon, Georgia, etc. The recipe varies from region to region and even though every recipe consists of the same thin pastry layers, the filling varies.

Prep Time: 45 mins

Cook Time: 105 mins

Total Time: 2 hours 30 mins

Ingredients: 2lbs or 2 packs of phyllo pastry sheets (TIP: You may not use all of the phyllo sheets but it’s good to have extra in case some tend to rip) 2 sticks of unsalted butter 1/2 cup of olive oil 1 16oz of ground biscuits (optional) 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar 4 cups of walnuts 1 lemon Pistachios as garnish (optional)

The pastry is like no other – it’s sticky, sweet and the perfect companion for a cup of coffee.  Many people shy away from making this dessert because, well…it seems unbelievably complicated. Once you break down the recipe, all it really consists of is the phyllo dough, walnuts, and agda/serbe (syrup).

The Baklava is left to soak in the syrup for hours to penetrate and soften the layers. Lemon is added to the syrup to balance the sweetness. The key to making the perfect syrup is to use the same amount of sugar and water (1:1 ratio).

It’s very hard to regulate how many servings the recipe yields because the way you cut the baklava, the size and shape of your pan and how many baklavas one person can eat. For example, I bake my baklava in a circular pan and it produces around 35-40 baklavas. If each person eats 2, then the recipe consists of 15-20 servings.

Instructions and Prep:

  1. Thaw phyllo dough by package instructions. Take out of the freezer and leave in the fridge overnight. Then place it on your countertop bringing it to room temperature. (Phyllo dough is available in most grocery stores in the freezer section next to pie crust and puff pastry).

  2. Grease a non-sticking, circular, rectangular or square pan. You may cut the phyllo sheets if you’d like to fit your pan. I do not cut mine as I just tuck the phyllo sheets as I assemble.

3. Phyllo sheets might rip as you pull them apart, but that’s fine. If you feel that your phyllo sheets are drying out and becoming hard, cover them with a damp kitchen towel.

How to make the Syrup and Butter

  • In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water, and 3 slices of lemon. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Keep mixing until the sugar is dissolved. This takes about 45 minutes. Once, sugar is dissolved, turn heat to low and let boil for about 10 more minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup cool down. (Allow the syrup to cool down as your baklava bakes, so do this first.)

  • In another smaller saucepan, combine and melt two sticks of unsalted butter and ½ cup of olive oil on medium heat.

Assembling the Baklava

  • In a food processor, pulse walnuts until finely chopped. Then in a medium-sized bowl, combine 4 cups of chopped walnuts, 1 bag of grounded biscuits, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix very well. Put to the side.

  • In a greased baking pan, begin assembling the phyllo sheets. Placing 10 phyllo sheets into the baking pan one at a time, brushing the melted butter mix on each sheet before adding the next sheet (i.e. place phyllo sheet, brush butter, place phyllo sheet, brush butter, etc.)

  • After 10 phyllo sheets, start adding the layers of nuts by grabbing a generous handful and sprinkling evenly over the sheets (i.e. place phyllo sheet, brush on butter, add on nut mixture, place phyllo sheet, brush on butter, add on nut mixture, etc.) Do this until you run out of nut mixture (about 5-7 layers).

  • Once you are out of nut mixture, add another 10 phyllo sheets and brush butter in between each sheet. On the last sheet, brush the very top with butter.

  • Tuck in any side pieces of phyllo dough that is left out. You may also tuck in as you layer the phyllo sheets.

  • You may cut the pastry into 1 ½ inch wide strips, cutting diagonally forming diamond shapes.

TIP: Since the phyllo is so thin and may make it difficult to cut, put the Baklava in the refrigerator for about an hour or so, then cut your slices before baking. The butter hardens and makes it so much easier to cut. ALWAYS cut the baklava before baking.

  • Bake at 350F for about 1 hour or until top is golden brown. Continue checking throughout the hour. If it blushes too much, cover with foil.

  • If your baklava is not catching a nice brown color, bake at 450F for the last few minutes, then take out of the oven.

  • Once baked, remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the cooled syrup evenly over the baklava. The baklava should not be “swimming” in the syrup, just pour the syrup until it looks moist and wet.

  • Let the baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temperature overnight for the syrup to soften the layers.

  • Garnish with finely chopped pistachios or nuts. Baklava can stay in the fridge for several days.

I bake my baklava in a large circular pan and it produces around 35-40 baklavas. If each person eats 2, then the recipe consists of 15-20 servings.


All my love,

Amina Brdarevic

Founder, EasternKitchen

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