Crispy, nutty and extra syrupy! Baklava is a delicious traditional Greek dessert made of layers of crispy golden brown phyllo, filled with chopped nuts and garnished with lemon scented syrup… Just heaven! This is a very easy to follow Baklava recipe for you to recreate this traditional sweet delight from scratch.
Layering the phyllo sheets
The key for the most flavourful Baklava is to use a good quality fresh butter to butter the phyllo sheets. The authentic Greek Baklava recipe calls for ‘galaktos’ butter made from a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk, but if you can’t handle its very strong flavour, then you can substitute with good quality fresh butter from cow’s milk. When preparing phyllo based desserts, like this Baklava recipe, a little trick to make the phyllo crispier and flakier is to sprinkle the melted butter over the phyllo sheets, rather than brushing them. I always prefer to use fresh filo (phyllo) sheets as it saves time defrosting them, but if you choose to prepare this Baklava recipe with frozen phyllo, it is important to thaw it completely by putting it in the fridge from the previous day. Working with phyllo can be tricky as it’s brittle and can dry out very quickly, so once start preparing this Baklava recipe, make sure you have a cleared out working surface, large enough to spread the filo sheets and minimise the time that they are exposed to the dry air.
Preparing the syrup
To achieve the perfect texture for the syrup of your Baklava, you should never blend or stir the syrup, while it is boiling, or else it will become lumpy. Just let the sugar dissolve in the hot water and boil for 2 minutes to make the syrup nice and thick. For the perfect Baklava: crispy phyllo and right syrup-ing go together! To accomplish this cut the Baklava in pieces before baking it and make sure the syrup is at room temperature and the baklava are hot. Always laddle really slowly the syrup over the hot Baklava, enabling each ladle to be absorbed, so that the syrup is absorbed evenly. Even though it will be really hard.. you should wait for the Baklava to cool down completely before serving.
So go ahead, give this super easy baklava recipe a try and let everyone think you are a master chef!
For the baklava
25-30 sheets of phyllo dough
500g (17 oz.) walnuts, chopped (or a mix of walnuts, pistachios and almonds)
2 tsps cinnamon powder
2 tsps grounded clove
300g butter, melted (10 oz.)
some whole cloves for garnish (optional)
For the syrup
600g sugar (20 oz.)
400g water (14 oz.)
80g glucose or honey (2.8 oz.)
zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 cinnamon stick
To prepare this baklava recipe, start by melting the butter in a saucepan over low heat, being careful not to burn it. Using a cooking brush butter the bottom and sides of a baking pan. (For this baklava recipe you will need a large baking pan approx. 40*30cm). Begin by layering the sheets of phyllo on the bottom of the baking dish to form the base of the baklava. Layer the sheets one at a time, making sure to sprinkle each one with melted butter. Use about 10-12 layers on the bottom side of the Baklava.
In a large bowl, mix the chopped nuts, the cinnamon and grounded clove. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the phyllo base and continue forming the top of the baklava. Top the nuts with the rest phyllo sheets (10 of them), sprinkling each one with melted butter and brush the top of the baklava with enough butter. You could also try layering the Baklava, adding a couple of sheets in between layers of filling if you’d like your baklava with extra nuts!
Place the baklava in the fridge for 15 minutes to make it easier to cut into pieces. Remove the baklava from the fridge and using a sharp knife cut the cut the pastry all the way down into pieces. If you fancy the taste of clove, place one whole clove berry into the middle of each baklava piece and sprinkle the top with some cold water.
Place the baklava in preheated oven at 150C on the lower rack (both top and bottom heating elements on) and bake for about 1 1/2- 2 hours, until all the phyllo layers are crisp and golden.
Prepare the syrup for the baklava. Into a small pot mix all the ingredients for the syrup and bring to the boil. Boil for about 2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Take it off the heat and let it cool down. As soon as the baklava is ready, ladle slowly the cold syrup over the hot baklava, until it is fully absorbed.
Let the baklava cool down completely and serve after the syrup has soaked throughput. Enjoy!