Recipe – Baklava

by john on March 22, 2003

Baklava

I don’t get the chance to make desserts too often but when I do my favorite thing to make is Baklava. If you’ve never had Baklava rush right out and get some – you’ll probably find it on the menu of your favorite local Greek restaurant. For the adventurous give this recipe a try. It’s a bit of work and isn’t cheap to make but the results. Oh the results. Baklava is one of the sweetest most satisfying treats I’ve ever eaten.

Baklava has quite a history too, believed to be introduced by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. Some interesting reading on the topic of the history of Baklava can be found at The Kitchen Project and TurkishBaklava.com. You may also find it referred to as baclava or baklawa.

As someone who enjoys dabbling in the kitchen I get pleasure out of seeing the reactions of others to my creations. This is especially true in the case of Baklava since I try to refrain from eating more than a couple of pieces, and this recipe makes enough for maybe 40 people. If I didn’t get a lot of help eating it I’d be in trouble! Every time I’ve brought it to work I always get a reaction similar to:

Hey John this Baklava is really good – where did you get it?
I made it.
WOW.

That makes it all worth it.

NEW – Visit my Baklava Store where you can buy Baklava without having to make it, or other Baklava related items. Through trusted vendor Amazon.com.

If you are looking for how to make baklava, read on for the best baklava recipe you will find on the internet:

Ingredients

2 pounds phyllo dough (approx. 40 sheets)
6 ½ cups finely chopped walnuts
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
¾ pound unsalted butter (melted)
2 ½ cups honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Grease a 13×9 pan (bottom & sides) and set aside.

Mix well the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack.

Note: When working with phyllo be sure to work fast and keep the unused portion covered with plastic wrap at all times, as it tends to dry out pretty fast. Also, be sure to carefully follow the defrosting instructions on the phyllo – the sheets will stick together if you try to do a “speed defrost”.

Set aside one full-size sheet of phyllo dough. Cover with plastic wrap.

Cut remaining phyllo sheets into 13×9 sheets. Actually, measure your pan and cut the sheets to match the actual inside dimensions. On my pan it is actually 12″ x 8″, for example. With a big sharp knife you should be able to cut all of the phyllo at the same time. You will most likely have a lot of left over phyllo – consider finding another dish where you could use the smaller pieces of leftover phyllo dough.

Carefully lay the full-size phyllo sheet into the greased pan, folding over the pan edges. With a pastry brush, liberally apply melted butter.

Lay a cut sheet of phyllo into the bottom of the pan, and with a pastry brush liberally apply melted butter. Repeat 9 more times, so that you have the one full sheet and 10 smaller sheets as your bottom layer.

Sprinkle 2 cups of the walnut mixture into the pan. Lay 6 more sheets of phyllo on top, making sure to liberally apply the melted butter between each sheet. Repeat this 3 more times, so that you have 4 separate layers of the walnut mixture. For the top layer place as many phyllo sheets on top as you have remaining, again making sure to liberally butter between each sheet. Using a sharp plastic spatula, carefully fold over the large sheet of phyllo that should still be extended over the edge back onto the top, so that you can see down the inside edges of the pan. In effect you now have one big baklava package wrapped with your initial phyllo sheet. Using a very, very sharp serrated knife, carefully score the baklava into whatever shape you want. A diamond pattern is the traditional shape. Try to cut about half-way down into the baklava when you do this.

Bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours at 300 degrees until nice and brown.

About 5 minutes before removing the baklava from the oven, combine the honey and lemon juice and heat over a medium heat until runny. Do not boil it, just heat it well so it has a consistency more like water.

Remove the baklava from the oven and very carefully drain the butter that it will no doubt be floating in.

Set the baklava on a cooling rack, and pour the honey mixture completely over it.

Cover the baklava and let sit for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best (if you can wait that long!)

When you are ready to cut the pieces, cut through the score marks with a sharp knife, and use a spatula to remove the pieces. Have patience with this step, if you are not careful here you can make a real mess of it!

You are done, enjoy the fruits of your labor. This is a labor intensive dish but well worth it! (Just don’t try to run it through a calorie counter – you won’t like what you see!)

{ 62 comments }

ScottMcG March 24, 2003 at 9:25 am

Yum! I love baklava. If I was not so lazy or if it was not so readily available near my house, I might be inclined to make it. I am glad to see that others, you in this case, have chosen to take a different route than I.

Joe Grossberg March 27, 2003 at 1:05 pm

Do you like Turkish (a.k.a. Arabic a.k.a. Greek) coffee too?

I find they’re splendid complements.

BTW, what is that green stuff that’s often sprinkled on top of east-Mediterranean pastries? Pistachios?

ScottMcG March 27, 2003 at 4:07 pm

I have eaten pastries with pistachios on them, so I suspect that is what you are referring to. And, yum! I ought to dine at Emily Lebanese deli tonight. They have baklava and Turkish coffee.

cloetejvv July 27, 2003 at 7:51 am

I LOOOOOOVE BAKLAVA!!!!!!!!

I just wanted to find out why some recipes use almonds and others use pecan nuts. Which is the most preferable?

marianne August 5, 2003 at 10:22 am

what is &frac12?

sam August 28, 2003 at 11:13 pm

hi every1
i love baklava but a soft one so i guess i’ll go bake one like this recipe
u guys want some?

B.J. September 10, 2003 at 12:43 pm

I am told that there is a way of making Baklava without honey using sugar and water do know anything about this I have a friend that is allergic to honey thanks B.J.

luai galal September 22, 2003 at 4:00 am

DEAR SIR
DOES THESE INGREDIENTS SUITABLR FOR BOG QUANTATY
I HAVE A BAKERY IWOULD LIKE TO BUY BACKLAVA TO CUSTOMER
WHAT IS THE BEST INGREDIENTS AN DRECIPE FOR THIS CASE
THANKU

Anette Merker September 30, 2003 at 3:57 pm

hmm… I love baklava. Do any one have more recipts?

Julie October 20, 2003 at 1:43 pm

I was told that baklava would keep for up to 4 weeks. Do you think this is correct? I want to send it to my husband in Iraq. Packages have been taking 10 days to two weeks to reach him.
Thank You

john October 20, 2003 at 8:33 pm

I’m afraid I don’t know for sure – we never get a chance to keep it more than a few days before it all gets eaten up! 🙂

George October 30, 2003 at 9:38 pm

From South Jersey,Alot of Greeks around herebut,dose any one know how many calories per piece or by the ounce?
Thank You
George

john October 30, 2003 at 10:31 pm

A lot!

Baklavadaki October 31, 2003 at 5:35 pm

Hallo ifi 🙂

iFiGeNiA October 31, 2003 at 5:37 pm

When I was eating baklava, u guys were still eating roots!Elladara for ever!

George October 31, 2003 at 8:30 pm

John,I was 406 pounds in April I’m only 5 ‘9 1/2 so I was as round as I was Tall. So when my 1/2 Greek Wife came home with a tray of baklava I fall off my deit bad, I’m 335 now if anyone knows how mmay calories it has so I can eat a piece a day and then go back to my diet.
Thanks

john October 31, 2003 at 8:53 pm

Well, according to this article 550, which isn’t as bad as some things.

http://www.cspinet.org/nah/11_00/greekfood.html#baklava

One glance at a baklava recipe and your arteries may start to quake. Each ultra-thin layer of phyllo dough is brushed with melted butter and layered with a mixture of chopped nuts and spices. Then its baked and drenched with syrup made of honey, sugar, and lemon juice. What pastry could possibly be worse?

A croissant, Cinnabon, scone, or danish, for starters. All have two to four times more saturated fat than a typical portion of baklava. All that brushing apparently delivers just two teaspoons of butter (five grams of artery-clogging fat).

Thats not to say that baklava is a health food. The calories hit 550 (in the same league as most other pastries) and the fat hits 21 grams. Even the sodium620 mgis a mouthful. And dont forget the eight teaspoons of sugar. Still, many other restaurant desserts are far worse.

George November 3, 2003 at 10:15 pm

Thank You John, When I get down to about 200 or 250 I know where I”m going to by my Baklava,this is the second time dropping alot of weight,the only bad thing is my wifes uncle came down from New York last night and brought a bbbig tray of spinicopita I spelled that wrong sorry,and already had about 9 pc’s they are try to keep me big I think.
Thanks Again
George

Nadine November 30, 2003 at 1:47 am

Hi John. I have been surfing for a Baclava recipe as my Husband ‘cleaned up’ a while ago and friends have asked for Baclava for a Christmas party. After 2 hrs of searching through my recipe collection I turned to the net.
This recipe is close enough to the one that I used to cook. It even went down a treat at one of our Greek restaurants too. For those who may be interested, two baking trays of Baclava usually lasted a night in the restaurant. A couple of hints from a fellow cook, Firstly, you should never put hot syrup over hot baclava. Most recipies recommend Hot syrup over cold baklava, but I actually do it the opposite way. Make the syrup and then keep it covered at room tem Cook the Baclava, make sure you have cut it through all the way before you cook it, I agree, a very sharp or serated knife is best. When Baclava is nice and golden on top, take out of oven. Pour the syrup over the hot baclava. Pour it slowly and if it has not been strained already, strain it as you pour it. Better to strain it first. Pour slowly so that it can seep into all the cracks of the cuts and through all of the sheets of the filo pastry. Put clean tea-towel over the top of the tray, put in the fridge and let cool.
To reduce calories- method 1. Spray each sheet of filo with spray-on oil (not olive oil). Method 2: Whip up a couple of egg whites. Brush the sheets of the filo with the egg white. If you whip it unitl it they are firm, then they go much further than if you just have the runny white. (this also works for all filo recipies)
The syrup: Add a cinnamon stick and a couple of whole cloves, grate the washed skin of a lemon into the syrup before you cook it. Squeeze a real lemon into the syrup, don’t worry about the pips, you will strain them out before you put them on the pastry.
Allergic to honey? put twice as much water as there is sugar and add the spices and lemon juice, slowly bring to boil and simmer until sugar is disolved.
Are you sure you have tried baclava that tastes like roses or oranges. Replace lemon jusce and peel with fresh orange juice and peel. Rose flavoured? use water instead of lemon juice do not put peel in the syru When the syrup is cool, add enough rose water to taste.
What nuts to use? Never use peanuts – the Greeks don’t grow peanuts, and this is what cheap restaurants/cafes use. Always use walnuts as this is traditional. If it is cheaper, replace half of the walnuts with blanched chopped almonds. I believe pistachios have been tried, but I haven’t used them – way too expensive where I come from. Pecans would be nice, but only if they are a cheaper choice, again, way too expensive for me.
yiasou – Nadine

Joy December 5, 2003 at 2:37 pm

How thick or tall ist it????

Desai, S. December 15, 2003 at 8:53 am

Hi John,

I can’t believe the wonderful, detailed recipe you have posted! You have taken so many pains to mention the details of every single step that to honor you, I am going to try this recipe today! My only concern is whether a 13″ * 9″ tray will suffice to serve 19 people (as opposed to 40 people!)? Also, I talked to a Greek restaurant owner once, and he said that a properly covered baklava will last one week in the refrigerator. Also, for those who are allergic to honey (what a shame!), the alternative syrup could be made using: 1.25 cups sugar (315 grams)0.5 cup water (125 ml), 1 tablespoon fresh lemon, 1 cinnamon stick & 1 lemon zest (optional).

I really like your spirit and one day I will check out other recipes that you have posted.

With warm regards,
Desai
P.S: My sincere thanks to Nadine as well, for posting worthy tips.

Karen March 11, 2004 at 2:43 pm

My gf and I just made this cause we both had time today, and wanted to do something besides visit museums and see movies. Must say, this turned out Wondermously! 😀 I’m usually terrible at these things; prolly cause everyone just assumes the readers know some stuff that we don’t (like, cut halfway in, butter the pan, don’t bring the sauce to a boil, etc.), but you made it pretty much foolproof. It went well with coffee (we’re both coffee addicts, heh) and it was a lovely way to spend time together with her. Thank you muchly. I plan on trying to make some of the other foods as well sometime. 🙂

Ervin April 22, 2004 at 6:35 am

If anyone of you guys happens to be in Bosnia, dont miss the chance to try our baklava /and burek/ …

bryan April 28, 2004 at 11:12 am

good eating

Nektarios Dalianis April 29, 2004 at 3:00 am

We produce baklava and saraglaki and other sweets here in Greece. We export in Europe but nothing in USA. It is welcome any inf. about gourmet Super Markets in New York or anywhere else. Our web site: http://www.sweetart.gr
Thank you in advance.

stace May 12, 2004 at 2:58 pm

a quick question, I made the recipe for baklava, it was wonderful!!!!! how long can it last on the counter???? or, can it be frozen??? i am visiting family in 3 weeks and would love to save some for them. I’m afraid it wont last. thanks

stacey May 12, 2004 at 3:02 pm

I made the recipe for the baklava, it was wonderful. I never realized what hard work it was. I am wondering, can i freeze some or how long will it last out on the counter??? are there any super storage tips??? I am visiting some family in 3 weeks and they would love some of this, so I wanted to try and bring some.

john May 12, 2004 at 4:35 pm

Glad you liked it. You can freeze it for months or it will last over a week on the counter – but probably not 3.

ikkuh June 1, 2004 at 5:51 am

kanker eten NEDERLANDS ETEN IS BETER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Danielle August 15, 2004 at 3:53 pm

I want to thank you for the recipe. Although i’ve never tried this recipe, i will definitely try it. My daughter said she did try this scrumptious desert and it’s worth it. I’ll keep you informed! Thank you 🙂

carolyn August 21, 2004 at 10:45 am

just wanted to say thanks! i found this in a search for baklava recipes for my own blog. i’ll have to try yours when i get home.

Tiffany August 23, 2004 at 9:18 am

My best friend’s birthday is Thursday and recently she mentioned how hungry she was for Baklava. I think I’ll make this for her as a gift as your recipe is so detailed. Most others are just intimidating. Thanks!

Danielle B August 23, 2004 at 12:27 pm

Hi John,

I did your baklava recipe yesterday but let me tell you that it’s soooooooo sweet, it almost makes you gag. I’ve never tried a baklava before but I heard so much about it…that’s why i’ve decided to give it a try. I do have a sweet tooth but this one beats them all. Although it does taste yummy (it taste even better when it has been made a day or so before tasting).

I’m just wondering, is it possible to cut down on the sugar as well as the honey or it’s the only way to be prepared? Like I said, it taste great but after one piece, I had to wash it down quickly with water.

Sorry about my comment, it’s…just EXTREMELY SWEET.

john August 24, 2004 at 12:22 am

There’s no question this recipe is extra sweet – in fact I use way more honey than most recipes call for. But of course that’s because that is how I like it. You could easily cut the honey in half or even 3/4, just cut it with a little water. Or try using a simple syrup laced with rose water. Check out some of the other Baklava recipes to get some ideas. If you want sweet you came to the right place. 🙂

Rebecca September 21, 2004 at 11:01 pm

John this recipe sounds great! I was introduced to Baklava a few months ago and I would love to make it! I have to say this one does not sound hard at all! I’ll let you know how it goes!
Efharisto,
Rebecca

patricia September 28, 2004 at 9:35 pm

Thanks John for this terrific, simple but tedious recipe on baklava! I will definitely try it and get back to you on it.

Pat

Peter G October 11, 2004 at 1:17 pm

Top recipe….went to a wedding recently where the bride was marrying an Albanian and his mother had made Baclava……it was sooooo nice I looked up your recipe and made it….its as good as hers!!!!!

Gunnur Kovats November 1, 2004 at 9:49 pm

I am Turkish, and make baklava very often for friends and family. We don’t use honey for the syruI use 2 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice for 1 lbs box of phyllo. It is not too sweet, just perfect!!

Steve G. November 15, 2004 at 12:19 pm

John,

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for baklava out. Sounds really, really good, and would be a great holiday treat coming uI’m not really sure what scoring is though, I have never done this. Can you explain? I appreciate it.
In return for this recipe I can give you my hand made chocolate chip cheesecake recipe if you’d like!!

Thanks,
Steve

Naomi November 19, 2004 at 6:44 pm

I have a recipe for Baklava that is much more simple and taste just as great.

Eric Ashley December 6, 2004 at 1:30 pm

Greetings,

I made my first batch ever just the other day, though not from this recipe. The problem I’m having is getting the baklava out of the pan without it falling apart. It’s like the walnut mixture doesn’t want to hold together and the top layer of phyllo comes off easily, like a little phyllo hat!

Also, the bottom is muy soggy. I waited till the syrup was cool, and the baklava still hot.

What am I doing wrong, if anything? Any suggestions?

Thanx in advance,

Eric

Mikayla December 20, 2004 at 10:51 am

My arteries are shaking in their bunnie slippers.

Sam December 22, 2004 at 8:48 am

This recipe is so detailed! I’m gonna try it today. I spent a year and a half in Albania, where they make baklava for New Year’s, and they roll out the sheets from scratch! I’m so glad we can get phyllo dough at the store here in Canada!

jacki December 22, 2004 at 8:26 pm

IF there is any leftover, can Baklava be frozen?

walkingstick January 31, 2005 at 8:17 pm

Just what I was looking for! I’ve lost my notes, and this sounds pretty close to what I remember. Thank you!

I live in an abstract artist’s mind, and Granny taught me how to cook the old fashioned way… throw a pinch in, a hand full should do it, put ’bout this much in the bowl… so the following might need to be played with for those who go by measurements.

For left over strips of phyllo, you might try small nut & meat pies. (Or whole layers for bigger pies and batches) I prefer pinon nuts, but they don’t always agree with people. Roasted almonds or walnuts taste wonderful as well.

Roast pinon nuts until they just smell rich and have light golden color. I roast two handfulls and save some for sauces, salads, etc.

Brown a few good handfulls of ground lamb or beef with chopped onion, minced fresh sweet garlic, a good dash of cinnamon to taste, a spoonful of sugar. That is the base. I am always adding, or changing something to compliment the over all dinner.

Drain the meat, save a bit of the juice for later. (you can substitute this with beatten egg or butter)

Mix about a handful or so of roasted pinon nuts into the meat.

Layer 3 phyllo strips to make a bed. A criss-cross pattern works well for me. Place a small scoop of meat mixture on the bed and fold/roll it closed. Brush a bit of the meat juice (or beatten egg) over the roll. Wrap another layer of phyllo over, brush with either the meat juice or egg, etc. Just guage the phyllo you have left over to roll the right number of layers for the amount of pies you want to make.

Bake them in the oven at about 350 until golden brown.

Gran also used to butter muffin tins and line each one with 4-5 left over phyllo strips, brush each inside with a warm butter and honey mix, and bake them until golden. After cooling, she’d (carefully) spread a soft cream cheese, sour cream and honey mixture like a nest in each one. Then, depending on the season, in each ‘nest’ she’d put a fresh strawberry, blueberries, or a spoonful of baklava nut mix she’d bake extra. They never lasted to the end of the day. She never ‘taught’ me the recipie for that one… but she let me peek around the corner enough to know ‘what’ she used. I’m still expiramenting and that’s half the fun!

I hope that inspires an idea or two for left over phyllo strips.

Thanks so much for the ‘juicy and crunchy’ recipie. I’m with you on the extra honey and all that butter. Mmmmmmmmmm!

anonymous February 2, 2005 at 4:27 pm

i use filbers instead of walnuts. try it. also i use cloves in each piece of baklava to help hold it together. try that too.

Susan Baumbach June 18, 2005 at 4:37 pm

I had amazing baklava today…individual “bird’s nest” baklavas–with cashews!!! I ate all 4. It was frighteningly good.

betty hanges June 29, 2005 at 12:05 pm

When is the best time to freeze the baklava–before cooking it, after cooking it and before pouring the syrup over it?
I am making it for a wedding and wanted to freeze it before hand.

Brent Astley July 16, 2005 at 8:21 pm

Well I am finally making baklava.. and it seems to be working. Living in a small village with limited grocery shopping opportunities I am substituting Puff pastery for the Phyllo… we will see…but it sure smells good and many thank yous for the wonderful recipe!!!

Baker Brent

Jim October 5, 2005 at 11:10 am

Baking at 300 for 2.5 to 3 hours seems a bit long. Is this time correct?

john October 5, 2005 at 9:02 pm

Yes, the time is correct. Of course, your mileage may vary.

sam October 17, 2005 at 3:16 am

I was dissapointed to see so many comments about the calorific value of baklava. What’s wrong with something special now and again, however much fat or sugar it contains? By the way, does anyone have a recipe for a more cake-like baklava that i have eaten? It seems to be made with ground almonds and/or semolina.

farhan March 3, 2006 at 7:03 am

Thank you very much.I have some doubts.Please help.Is butter ghee tastes good than using butter because the baklawa I bought from nearby bakery have very much taste of butter ghee and I love that taste Baking in the electric oven(not microwave oven)is difficult? because bottom will get brown first and the top of baklawa will remain uncooked.Have you any solution? The phyllo dough I bought is 500gms can you convert 1 pound in grams.I will be thankful if you help.thank you

Iliam March 7, 2006 at 4:41 am

what is rose water?

freeda October 27, 2006 at 10:34 pm

Hi! John,

I tried ur Baklava recipe today and it came out very well. I took a print out of ur recipe and showed it to my hubby he really liked ur recipe and the way u’ve explained it to us. Thank u very much and May God Bless YOU! I’m from India, and have no knowledge/heard about Baklava. My husband is an American and his grand father is from Greek (mom’s dad). grandpa passed away in the 90″s. I came to the States last feb. and learnt a lot of American recipies. Thank u once again.

bye

freeda Yates

Kaleyu February 19, 2007 at 5:36 pm

great recipie i love it

Jon June 9, 2007 at 3:09 am

well, I would like to try to make it and see how great your recepie is. It looks like it will be. Just wanted to drop a line to let you know.

Nazar August 14, 2007 at 7:24 am

Hi John!

I made your baklawa yesterday, and got a first taste of it today morning. I have to say that you have quite succeeded in making probably the best baklawa i ever tasted. I’m iraqi, so I’ve eaten some baklawa in my days. Awesome recipe. Thank you!

Nazar Jabbar

Sonja Vasilova January 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

Hi all 🙂

On the question “why the bottom of the baclava was soggy?”
Well, the trick is that you should do it the other way round!get the backlava to cool down complitely and then pour the hot syrup over it. Yep, that’s it, trust me, baklava is all around me since I’m born, in Macedonia 🙂

Nikkii June 21, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Baklava is awesome, I’m making it right now!! 🙂 but this recepie is very different, I should try it when I have a little bit more time!! So thanks so much for posting this!!

Nikkii June 21, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Ohhh and almost forgot why do you need to have water under baklava when cooking it?

Cristina August 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm

I thought these were originally made with Pistachio. That is how I have tried it at a Syrian restaurant near my house.

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