A classic recipe for Baklava, the traditional Greek and Turkish pastry made with ground nuts and buttery layers of phyllo dough, drizzled with a spiced honey syrup. Learn how to make this crispy Greek Baklava for holiday platters or special occasions!
Long, long ago when my husband and I were dating and he was still living in the DC suburbs, we happened upon a summer Brewfest. After getting our tasting glasses and sampling brews, we hit the food tents. On our way out, we walked past a little Greek food tent manned by an older couple. They were charming and the pastries looked unbelievable; we loaded up on some baklava and headed home.
Later that night, we dug in and I suddenly remembered how absolutely phenomenal baklava is. Layers of buttery, flaky phyllo dough are piled high between sections of spiced, ground walnuts. Once baked and golden brown, the entire pan is drowned in a spiced honey syrup, which is left to soak in for hours. It’s sweet, a little sticky, a little spicy, and fabulously nutty.
The Origin of Baklava
Many people wonder if baklava is, indeed, a Greek dessert or if it is Middle Eastern in origin, so I did some research…
The first mention of a dessert resembling baklava goes way, wayyyyyy back to the BC age, which is incredible. The Greeks and the Turks still argue as to where the recipe originated, but the oldest version of this recipe (a baked dessert with layers of dough and covered in honey) shows up, and Greek and Turkish cuisine both built upon cooking traditions from the Byzantine and, later .
When I do recipe research, it rarely, if ever, goes back THAT far. Amazing!
Much like tres leches, recipes have regional differences across the globe, baklava has similar roots in various countries. Each recipe still consists of flaky layers of phyllo dough and a chopped nut filling but you might notice a few differences.
Greece: This recipe leans more to the traditional Greek Baklava recipe made with walnuts, cinnamon, and sweet honey syrup.
Turkey: Made with a filling of almonds, walnuts, or pistachios and topped with kaymak (similar to clotted cream)
Iran: Cuts the baklava into diamond shapes and soaks in rosewater syrup.
Lebanon: Made with a walnut filling but topped with orange blossom water and uses much less syrup for soaking.