International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Baklava

Baklava (Greek, Turkish nut and phyllo sweet pastry)

(Greek, Turkish nut and phyllo sweet pastry)

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An ancient treat, baklava was first cooked up in its current form by Ottoman cooks in present-day Turkey. Its popularity quickly spread to Greece and other countries in the region. Sticky and sweet, it is the iconic Middle Eastern pastry. And it's surprisingly easy to make.

Makes about 30 pieces

Ingredients

Pastry

  • Phyllo dough -- 20 sheets (1/2 of a 1-pound package)
  • Melted unsalted butter -- 1 cup
  • Walnuts, pistachios or almonds, finely chopped -- 3 cups (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Sugar -- 1/4 cup
  • Ground cinnamon -- 2 teaspoons
  • Ground cloves -- 1/4 teaspoon

Syrup

  • Sugar -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Water -- 1/1/2 cups
  • Honey -- 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice -- 2 teaspoons

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Brush a 13x9-inch baking pan with some of the melted butter. Lay 9 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the pan, brushing each with the melted butter before laying down the next.
  2. Mix the nuts sugar, cinnamon and cloves together in a bowl and spread half the mixture evenly over the phyllo. Lay two sheets of phyllo over the nuts, brushing each with butter. Then spread the remaining 9 sheets of phyllo over the second layer of nuts, brushing each sheet with the butter.
  3. Trim the phyllo to fit the pan and use a sharp knife to cut into even diamond or square shapes. Sprinkle the top of the baklava lightly with water.
  4. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 60 minutes. Cover the pan with aluminum foil if the top starts turning too brown.
  5. While the baklava bakes, mix the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
  6. When the baklava comes out of the oven, recut it with a sharp knife. Gently spoon the syrup evenly over the baklava, taking particular care to get it in between the cut edges. Let the baklava set for several hours to soak up the syrup before serving. Cover loosely to store.

Baklava Variations

  • Use a mixture of nuts if you like. A half-half mix of almonds and walnuts is popular. Sprinkle the top of the finished baklava with finely ground nuts as a garnish.
  • Add a lemon peel, cinnamon stick or a couple whole cloves to the boiling syrup to add flavor. Remove from the syrup before you pour it over the baklava. Or stir a splash of rosewater or orange blossom water into the syrup just before you pour it on the sweets.

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