Baklava is a popular Middle Eastern dessert with a Turkish decent. The sweet dish was a luxury to monarchs, kings and all those who could afford it. However, with time the recipe and the ingredients became more accessible, reaching all homes on special occasions.
What is Baklava made of?
To put it simply, baklava is flaky bread with layers of nuts, soaked in honey. Flat bread (phyllo), nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts and honey or syrup are the basic ingredients that are brought together to create this mouth-watering dessert.
How to make Baklava?
The home chef will be delighted to find that Baklava is surprisingly easy to make.
- Almonds or your choice of Mixed nuts, finely chopped – 1 pound
- Phyllo dough – 1 pack
- Butter, melted – 1 cup
- Water – 1 cup
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Honey – ½ cup
- Cinnamon, ground – 1 teaspoon
- Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
- Lemon zest – 1 teaspoon
In a bowl, mix nuts (ground in a food processor), vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Meanwhile, allow the phyllo dough to thaw, uncover and set aside with a damp towel.
With a pastry brush, layer a 9×13 baking dish with melted butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. For the bottom layer, add eight sheets of phyllo dough. The dough is very brittle and so you will have to be very gentle with it. If it rips in places, try pushing it back in place.
Once the dough is in place, spread a 1/4th of the nut mix as a second layer. Next, add four sheets of phyllo and repeat the layers till all of the nuts and dough is used. Carefully cut the Baklava from top to bottom in diagonal rows to create diamond shaped pieces.
Bake the baklava in the preheated oven for 50 minutes until golden and crisp. While it’s in the oven, stir up the syrup with sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, water and honey in a pan and bring to a boil. Pour this syrup over the baklava while it’s fresh out of the oven. Set aside to cool completely.
Getting baklava is all about following these simple steps. The most common question about storage is- Can you freeze fresh baklava? The answer is yes. It can be easily refrigerated in foil or cupcake/butter-paper and stored up to three months from making. With this easy recipe, you have all you need to whip up a dessert for the week.
The Middle East boasts of magnificent architecture, uncanny terrains and traditional food. Food is the best route to getting acquainted with culture. And what better way to enjoy food culture than to begin with desserts? Bring Baklava to your own kitchen for a taste of the exotic East.