For every special occasion and holiday, our family makes the traditional Greek favorite dessert, Baklava. It is a bit time consuming but well worth it! Here’s Yia yia Theodora’s family recipe…
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1.5 cups of water
- 2 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon)
- 8 cloves (or 3/4 teaspoons of ground cloves)
- 3/4 cups of honey
- rind and juice of one lemon
- 1.5 pounds of chopped walnuts
- 1.5 pounds of fillo (or phyllo) dough (thawed overnight in refrigerator)
- 1 pound of unsalted butter
- 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 5 Tablespoons of sugar
- pastry brush
- paper cupcake cups
First, we make the syrup. Mix the sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves and lemon. Bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Then add the honey. Return to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. At first, the syrup will be thin but will thicken up after boiling, simmering and sitting to cool.
Secondly, we mix the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Melt the unsalted butter in a separate bowl.
Take the fillo (or phyllo) dough out of its package. Lay it on a cutting board. If you have to walk away for a bit, cover the filo dough with a slightly damp kitchen cloth to keep it moist. Otherwise, it will dry out very quickly.
I cut my fillo (or phyllo) to fit the size of my pan. You can also just fold any excess fillo once you place it in your pan.
Butter your pan. I use 9 inch x 13 inch glass pans. You can also use a larger foil pan.
Place one layer of fillo into the pan, butter it, and repeat this step 5 more times (you should have a total of 6 buttered layers of fillo). Then spread a light layer of the nut mixture.
After spreading the nut mixture, place another 6 layers of buttered fillo into the pan. Spread a second layer of the nut mixture and follow with another 6 layers of buttered fillo.
Butter the final piece of fillo dough. Place the pan into the refrigerator for approximately 10 minutes to solidify the butter. Once the butter has solidified, remove from the refrigerator and cut through the hardened fillo, first by making 4 vertical cuts. Then, proceed to cut diagonally to form small diamond-shaped pieces.
Once you are done with cutting, bake at 300 degrees for 60 minutes. The Baklava should be a light golden brown. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot Baklava.
Cool the Baklava at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator or freeze, tightly sealed. If you store it at room temperature, leave the Baklava loosely covered so it won’t loose its crispness.
I place each individual piece in a paper cupcake cup, so it will be easy to handle and because the Baklava is sticky. Enjoy! Καλά Χριστούγεννα!