Classic baklava is actually a lot easier to make than it looks (it has a few steps involved, so it just needs some patience)! It features crispy layers of phyllo dough, butter, and your choice of nuts. And it's ALL topped off with a deliciously sticky syrup!
Baklava is deceptively easy to make. It actually used to be on my top 10 most intimidating recipes that I never, ever wanted to try. (Yes, I have a list) It was up there right next to croissants!
Most of the work is in stacking the baklava layers (which I would say is actually quite fun!) And making the syrup really only involves combining all of your syrup ingredients in a pot and boiling it.
I guess you could say, it's so easy, it's nuts! *ba dum tss*
One of the main reasons I love to make baklava at home is because you can customize how much syrup you add! Store-bought baklava was often too sweet for my taste. But this homemade baklava is sweetened just enough to add a nice level of stickiness and richness without being sickeningly sweet!
What is baklava?
Baklava is a dessert made up of phyllo pastry layered with butter (to make it crispy) and nuts. The whole thing is baked, and then topped off with a syrup and set aside to soak it in. It yields a deliciously sweet, sticky, nutty pastry with a slight crunch!
To make homemade baklava, you will need:
• nuts: you can use whichever nuts you like. Some classics include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and peanuts. You can use one or a combination of nuts! I personally love a 2 to 1 mix of almonds and walnuts
• cinnamon: if you don't like cinnamon, you can scale this back or leave it out
• sugar: for the nut mixture and the syrup
• salt: to cut through some of the sweetness!
• butter: this is NOT a diet food! Butter = flaky phyllo!
• phyllo dough: a frozen package does the job fine here
• water: for the syrup
• honey: for the syrup as well. It adds flavor and prevents crystallization
• lemon juice: just a hint. Again, to prevent crystallization
What goes well with baklava:
Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with pairing baklava with coffee or tea. I usually scale back the sugar I add to my drink because of how rich and sweet baklava already is!
I've also heard of some people pairing baklava with wine. Any dessert wine would pair well.
How to store baklava:
If you're worried about how to keep baklava crispy, then the key is to store it at room temperature, and just loosely cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Sorting baklava in the fridge can cause it to soften because of the high level of moisture. And covering baklava too tightly can cause it to soften because air can't get in (and air keeps it dry and crisp)!
Baklava will last for around 4 days out at room temperature. But it usually disappears after 1 day in my house.
Who am I kidding? 1 hour.
If you liked this baklava, check out some of these similar recipes!
• flan (crème caramel)
• Greek spanakopita
• easy croissants
Homemade Baklava Recipe
For the baklava:
- 3 cups chopped nuts * see notes
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 (16 ounce) package of phyllo dough, thawed
For the syrup:
- 1 & ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, combine chopped nuts, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Mix to combine, and set aside.
- Prep a 9x13 inch baking dish by buttering the bottom and sides with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Unroll your phyllo dough, and keep the sheets that you're not working with covered with a damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying and breaking!
- Take one large sheet and fold it in half to fit the pan. Place the folded sheet in your baking dish, and brush the top lightly with some melted butter (about 1 teaspoon). Fold another sheet in half and layer it on top of the previous buttered sheet. Lightly butter the top again. Continue layering a folded sheet of phyllo with a layer of butter until you have about 8 or 9 folded sheets stacked.
- Sprinkle half of your nut mixture evenly on top of the last sheet. Place another folded sheet on top of the nut mixture, then top with the remaining ½ of the nuts. Continue the layering process again (alternating between a folded sheet of phyllo dough and butter) until all the phyllo dough is used up.
- Generously brush the top layer with butter. Using a sharp knife, cut your baklava into individual portions. I cut mine into diamonds by making 3 cuts down the phyllo dough lengthwise, and then smaller diagonal cuts. You can also cut them into squares if you prefer.
- Bake the baklava in the center of your preheated 325°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a deep golden brown on top. While it bakes, start preparing the syrup.
- To make the syrup, combine sugar, water, honey, and lemon juice in a medium sized saucepan. Place the pan on a burner set to high heat and bring to a boil. Once the syrup starts boiling, boil for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, turn the heat off and set the saucepan aside to cool slightly while the baklava finishes baking.
- Once the baklava is baked, take it out of the oven and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes. Afterwards, slowly pour the syrup over the hot baklava. Set aside the baklava to cool completely to room temperature before serving!
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