syrian baklava
Recipe type: dessert
  • 1 pound frozen phyllo (thaw at least 5 hours before using)*
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound walnuts, ground
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • For the Syrup:_
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Special equipment: pastry brush
  1. Thaw phyllo leaves and cut to fit pan (see note below).
  2. Make the filling with the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and rosewater.
  3. Butter the pan, then place two phyllo leaves onto the bottom. Butter these. Sprinkle with thin layer of walnut mixture. Place another phyllo leaf down, butter, and sprinkle with walnut mixture again. Continue this pattern with 1 or 2 phyllo leaves, butter, walnuts until you end up with 2-3 phyllo leaves. Place remaining walnut mixture on top, and cover with remaining phyllo, buttering each layer.**
  4. Cut into 24 squares and bake at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes (mine took 37 minutes), until lightly browned.
  5. Make syrup while pastry is baking. Boil syrup ingredients for up to 45 minutes, watching carefully to prevent browning or burning. This can happen fast, so be careful. I boiled mine for 35 minutes. Out of curiosity, I checked the temperature with a candy thermometer -- it was 210 degrees F.***
  6. When pastry is done baking, remove and immediately cover with syrup. Allow to cool completely (about 2 hours) and to allow the syrup to absorb into the pastry.****
  7. To store: Wrap baklava in foil to store in fridge for months.
* Mine came in 13 x 17-inch sized leaves. I cut this in half to fit into my 9x13-inch pan, then also trimmed one edge a little more to make sure the leaves fit flush with the pan walls. (You could also fold each in half.) What did I do with the trimmings? I made phyllo croutons (see photo below). Using a few leaves at a time, I painted them in melted butter, salted them, rolled them up and baked them alongside the baklava (about 30 minutes). I fully intended to save the lot for a salad -- but I ate one. Then another. And another. So crispy and buttery, I couldn't help myself. My salad was graced with some toasted almonds instead. ** Although many recipes recommend blanketing the top with 6-8 buttered layers of dough, I use only 2 and feel it's kind of thin (but never change my technique the next time around). Additionally, there are some recipes that place most of the filling in the middle of the phyllo leaves, whereas mine disperses it evenly throughout (see notes in post above). *** I considered cooking to the "soft ball" stage but then I recalled a bad baklava experience. I bought some baklava at a Greek market, marveling at the flaky, crispy phyllo. When I bit into it, it was so chewy from the hardened sugar syrup that I had a tough time chewing it. **** The pastry seems to swim in this at first, but as it cools, it absorbs most of this syrup. I always find my baklava a little moist on the bottom (gravity!) and consider reducing the simple syrup to 1½ cups water and 1½ cups sugar. But then I never do it. Persian versions of baklava are more "dry" so I could spin the recipe in that direction if I ever reduce the syrup.
Recipe by story of a kitchen at