Baklava is one of the most-loved Greek desserts. With origins in the Ottoman cuisine, it is prepared all around Greece, Turkey, and many other countries of the Levant, the Balkans and beyond.
We’ve tasted some delicious Turkish baklava with pistachios, while in Greece walnuts are preffered. Some more ‘modern’ versions which were popular all around Athens in the 90s-2000s used hazelnuts. Diverting from traditional recipes, for us, the selection of nuts is a very personal choice, and in this recipe we’ve actually used a mixture of all three: pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts.
When it comes to the layers of filo, there are, again endless variations. If you love a tall baklava, double the recipe, or prepare it in a smaller baking dish. In ours we used one pack of filo and a 32x26cm dish and the result was a thin baklava. Ideally a metal baking dish is preferred as the distribution of heat is optimal for the baklava. However, we tried baking ours in a classic baking dish and it worked just fine.
For the syrup, we used our wild flower honey to sweeten ours, which adds a wonderful depth of flavour. When it comes to pouring the syrup over the baked baklava, there is a great debate around the ideal temperatures. We found that cooled down syrup poured over the hot baklava, just as it comes our of the oven gives a wonderfully crispy filo.
For the syrup
200g white sugar
200g wild flower honey
2tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Syrup: In a medium sized pot and over medium heat add the water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and peel, and cinnamon stick. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick and set aside to cool.
Preparation: Preheat your oven to 190C.
Working in batches and using a pestle and mortal or blender, grind your nuts until they resemble coarse sand. Whisk in the sugar and cinnamon and set aside in a bowl.
Place the sheets of filo on the table over a kitchen towel and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
Melt your butter and place it on the table.
Assembling: Brush the bottom and sides of your pan with butter. Place one layer of filo, trimming the ends if needed. Drizzle some butter and add another layer of filo. Repeat until you have four layers of filo at the bottom.
Sprinkle a thin layer of your nut mixture. Cover with a sheet of filo and drizzle with butter. Repeat the process with a thin layer of nuts, then filo then drizzled butter, until you are left with three sheets of filo and no nuts.
Drizzling butter in between the sheets of filo, cover the top of the baklava with the remaining three sheets. If you have any butter left then pour it over your baklava.
Using a sharp knife cut in a diamond-shaped pattern (or squares or whatever you prefer). You can place the baklava in the fridge for the butter to set if you are finding it difficult to cut.
Baking: Bake at 190C in the bottom rack of the oven for 30-40minutes, until the baklava is golden and cooked underneath as well (check by gently lifting a piece from the corner).
Remove from the oven and immediately pour over the syrup. You will hear it making a beautiful sound. The syrup might seem a lot but let it cool and it will absorb most of it.
Tip: Baklava is always better the next day, so if you can, be patient and wait at least a few hours before serving it.