Baklava is one of the most popular of all Greek desserts. Greek-style baklava typically includes phyllo, butter or olive oil, a sweet and spicy filling made from ground nuts, and a syrup that usually involves honey. While the method stays the same, recipes can vary depending on the region of Greece and the individual’s preferences.
Here’s an explanation of a simple way to make it. There is room to change the ingredients based on your own preferences, while still making it in the traditional Greek style.
For the syrup:
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup honey (traditional Greek honey is best!)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Juice of 1 fresh orange
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
For the baklava:
- 2 sticks butter (1 cup total), melted
- 1 pound of phyllo, defrosted in the refrigerator
- 1 pound chopped or coarsely ground walnuts, almonds, pistachios or a combination of any of these (walnuts are very traditional, but some Greeks do use almonds or pistachios)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
Prepare the syrup before the assembling the baklava. The syrup needs to cool completely before pouring over the baklava.
Add the sugar, honey, and cinnamon stick to a medium saucepan. Set the burner to medium and heat until the granulated sugar is dissolved. Stir the mixture several times while heating using a wooden spoon.
Once the mixture begins to bubble, stir in the orange juice and orange zest and set the heat to low. Simmer until the syrup thickens. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely on the stove top.
As the syrup is cooling, you can assemble and bake the baklava. Set the heat on your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 pan with butter. Place a sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the pan and brush with butter. Lay another sheet of phyllo on top of that one and brush with butter. Repeat six more times.
Add the nuts, sugar, cinnamon, cloves (if using), and nutmeg (if using) to a mixing bowl and stir gently. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mixture over the phyllo. Place a sheet of phyllo over the nuts and brush with butter. Repeat this process two more times.
Once all the mixture is used up, place a sheet of phyllo over the top and brush with butter. Repeat until all the phyllo is used up. Cut two diagonal slits over the top of the baklava and then pour the remaining butter over the top. Spread it using your pastry brush to disperse it.
Place the baklava in the center of the oven and bake until light golden brown in color. This should take 30-45 minutes but keep checking it every 15 minutes or so, since every oven is different. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over. Let the syrup absorb in for about thirty minutes. At this stage you can cut the baklava to serve it or refrigerate if you aren’t eating it right way.