Baklava is a perennial favorite, a classic Greek pastry made with flaky phyllo dough that is layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling, and bathed in sweet syrup. It’s crunchy and sweet and very decadent.
Baklava has become so familiar to most people that one could almost consider it a conventional dessert. For our family, it remains a tried and true favorite and this recipe is one that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Yield: Approximately 24 pieces
- For the filling:
- 1 lb. walnuts, coarsely ground
- 1/2 lb. almonds, coarsely ground
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- For the syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 10 whole cloves
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets
- 1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted
If you are using a food processor to grind the nuts, process the almonds separately from the walnuts. Almonds take a bit more time to grind than walnuts and you don’t want the walnuts to be ground too finely.
Mix the walnuts, almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Unwrap the Phyllo:
Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18 inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9 x 12 inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.
Assemble the Baklava:
Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 rectangular pan. Begin by layering six sheets of phyllo making sure to brush each with melted butter.
Add half of the nut mixture in an even layer. Pat it down with a spatula to flatten.
Continue layering another 6 sheets of phyllo. Add the remaining nut mixture in an even layer. Top with the remaining phyllo sheets.
Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to go past the top filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later. I place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the phyllo turns a rich golden color.
Prepare the Syrup While the Baklava is Baking:
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and the sugar and mix well. Add the cloves and simmer over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. You want the syrup to be slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and discard the cloves. Stir in the juice of half a lemon. Allow the syrup to cool slightly.
When the baklava is out of the oven and still warm, ladle the syrup carefully into the pan. Baklava can be refrigerated or stored at room temperature.