Tuesday, December 28, 2021


I tried something new a couple weeks ago: Making baklava.

Baklava is a rare, seldom-encountered treat because it's so expensive. I have a small piece maybe once every three or four years. Because I've never worked with phyllo dough before, to be honest I was a little intimidated to try making my own. Then I came across a recipe that seemed reasonably easy to follow, and decided to give it a try.


Here's the recipe:


  • 16 oz phyllo dough thawed by package instructions
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 lb walnuts, finely chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnomon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Melted chocolate chips & chopped walnuts for garnish (optional)


  1. Thaw phyllo dough by package instructions (this is best done overnight in the fridge, then place it on the counter for 1 hr before starting your recipe to bring it to room temp).
  2. Trim phyllo dough to fit your baking dish. [I bought a new but inexpensive 10x14 baking dish from the grocery store that fit the phyllo without trimming it.]
  3. Butter the bottom and sides of the baking pan.

Start with the honey sauce (which needs time to cool as baklava bakes)

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over med/high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat to med/low and boil additional 4 min without stirring. Remove from heat and let syrup cool while preparing baklava.

Preheat Oven to 325˚F

1. Pulse walnuts 10 times in a food process or until coarsely ground/ finely chopped. In a medium bowl, stir together: 4 cups finely chopped walnuts and 1 tsp cinnamon

2. Place 10 phyllo sheets into baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with butter once it's in the pan before adding the next (i.e. place phyllo sheet into pan, brush the top with butter, place next phyllo sheet in pan, butter the top, etc. etc.). Keep remaining phyllo covered with a damp towel at all times. Spread about 1/5 of nut mixture (about 3/4 cup) over phyllo dough.

3. Add 5 buttered sheets of phyllo, then another layer of nuts. Repeat x 4. Finish off with 10 layers of buttered phyllo sheets. Brush the very top with butter.

    • Here's the order of the baklava layers:
      10 buttered phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nut mixture,
      5 buttered phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nut mixture,
      5 buttered phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nut mixture,
      5 buttered phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nut mixture,
      5 buttered phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nut mixture
      10 buttered phyllo sheets and butter the top.

4. Cut pastry into 1 1/2" wide strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes. Bake at 325˚F for 1 hour and 15 min or until tops are golden brown.

5. Remove from oven and immediately spoon cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava (you'll hear it sizzle). This will ensure that it stays crisp rather than soggy. Let baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temp. For best results, let baklava sit 4-6 hours or overnight at room temperature for the syrup to penetrate and soften the layers. Garnish baklava with finely chopped nuts or drizzle with melted chocolate. Store at room temp, covered with a tea towel for 1 to 2 weeks.


Anyway, that's the recipe.

First thing I did was take the phyllo dough out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature.

For the filling, I needed a pound of walnuts...

...chopped fine.

To this I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Next up, the honey sauce.

I put the honey sauce aside, then melted the butter in another pot.

Then it was time to unwrap the sheets of phyllo. As I said, I'd never worked with this dough before, and it was a lot easier than I thought.

I started by buttering the pan.

I followed the order for layering the phyllo sheets listed in the recipe: buttering 10 sheets, then a layer of nuts, then five sheets, etc.

To keep track, I used 10 pennies and put one aside every time I buttered a layer.

Adding a layer of nuts.

I found using a dry brush to spread the nuts helped a lot.

Then it was back to buttering layers of phyllo, layering with nuts, repeat, repeat, repeat. This was undeniably the most tedious portion of making baklava. Next time I do this, I'll sit rather than stand.

At last everything was assembled, and I got ready to cut the tray into the parallelogram shapes the directions indicated.

I quickly learned a knife wasn't nearly as efficient...

...as a pizza cutter. Worked like a charm.

Ta da!

When I finished assembling the baklava, I couldn't bake it right away because I was using the oven for something else. So I covered it with a damp towel for the time being.

Then I baked it. It came out golden-brown.

Immediately, while it was still hot, I ladled the honey sauce over the top. It sizzled in a very satisfactory fashion.

Per the instructions, I let it cool at room temperature overnight before trying it. It was terrific!

Because I'm not the most creative or successful person in the kitchen, I'm always thrilled when something actually turns out right. This is a winner! Definitely something for future desserts.


  1. Congrats! My mom always made it with pistachios when I was growing up. (Mom is a little nuts. She also made her own croissants from scratch in the 70s.)

  2. One of my favorite deserts. I dated a Greek girl with a huge family back in the 70's. They got me hooked on it. The grandma made sure every time I came over that I left with a bunch of it.

  3. This has been one of my favorites. My Mom and Dad used to take us kids to a Greek festival in Milwaukee years ago. They would treat us to a piece and buy some for home. I too have always been afraid to try and make it. My Mom tried it a few times and said it was "difficult". Maybe she meant time consuming? Thanks for posting Patrice! I'll give it a try. Pat

  4. I had a friend make it without buttering every layer. She layered some phyllo sheets, put on the walnut mixture, a few more phyllo sheets, more walnut mixture, then topped with final layer of phyllo sheets. She scored the phyllo where it was to be cut fully later. Took 2 sticks of butter she had melted and poured it all over the phyllo, getting it into the cuts and edges. After baking followed your instructions. Tasted just as good.

  5. That looks great Patrice! Well done!

    My baklava secret:

    1) Find a local Greek Festival.

    2) Buy baklava.

  6. Had a friend with a Greek husband so she learned to make it. I think it was the same recipe you used. It never lasted more than 2 days - she said they ate it for every meal. That's why she only made it once a year between Christmas and New's Year.

  7. I love that you share favorite recipes with us. And their construction, like a good cookbook. As another lover of baklava, you're inspiring me to give it a try as well. However, for some reason it brought to mind apple pie. Go figure. Anyway, apples and walnuts and sweet stuff go very well together so maybe some finely diced apples and cinnamon would make a good addition as a twist. After, of course, learning to do the basic recipe!

    1. Well, bless Pat, ( another Southern euphemism ), some folks say the South shall rise again. Gosh golly gee whiz, it rises in hearts every single day through the many bounteous blessings springing from this place. Let's not forget Kentucky Bourbon which has earned it's rightful place in most everything sweet ! I do believe that special sauce for the baklava begs for a small annointing. It'll cook off and leave another layer of flavor. Like vanilla does.
      My oven doesn't work, just the cooktop. With luck it'll all come out and get redone this summer. I love to cook and this limitation is driving me wall nuts!

  8. Baklava also freezes well. I love to make it, but not very often

  9. 40+ years ago while working for a Greek doctor in Spokane, his grandmother would make baklava and treat the office with it occasionally. She believed that to be a good Greek cook, you must make the phyllo by hand yourself! Her baklava was the best I've ever had!

  10. Awseome. I am going to try this.