This easy, step-by-step guide will show you how to make delicious homemade baklava!
Baklava is universally loved. It’s a sweet, flaky, uber-crispy dessert, but it can be a little intimidating.
While making baklava isn’t complicated, working with phyllo dough can be a challenge. It’s very delicate and dries out quickly.
However, with this easy-to-follow recipe, you can indulge your craving anytime it strikes!
After you try it, you’ll never resort to having store-bought baklava again.
What Is Baklava?
Baklava is a Middle Eastern dessert with layers of flaky phyllo dough, nuts, cinnamon, and sugar. After it bakes, it’s soaked in a honey-based, sugary syrup.
It’s sweet, crispy, flaky, nutty, and delicious. Some recipes also contain lemon zest and lemon juice in the syrup.
There are savory baklava recipes, as well. However, they aren’t nearly as popular as their sweet counterparts.
Origin of Baklava
Baklava has been around for centuries, dating back to at least the Byzantine Empire. Most people consider it a Middle Eastern delicacy, specifically originating in Turkey.
However, countries all over Asia, Europe, and beyond enjoy it today.
Despite how intricate it looks, baklava only requires a few ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the baklava:
- Phyllo dough – You can make your own phyllo dough, but I never bother. The stuff you get at the grocery store is just as good and much more convenient.
- Chopped nuts – You can use whatever nuts you like best. Pistachios and walnuts are traditional, but you don’t have to stick to those. I love almonds in mine.
- Butter – Use real butter for this recipe. It serves many purposes and should be high quality. It holds the sheets together and adds richness, flavor, and moisture.
- Ground cinnamon – Cinnamon is another key ingredient for flavor. Be sure yours is fresh.
For the sauce:
- Water – For boiling the sugar.
- Sugar – For sweetness.
- Vanilla extract – For warmth and richness.
- Honey – For sweetness and rich stickiness.
How to Make Baklava
There are several steps to this recipe. However, it’s not so much complicated as it is precise. You must do things correctly and in a specific order.
See the recipe card below for the step-by-step, detailed instructions. This will give you a brief overview.
1. Prepare your ingredients. Gather the ingredients, grease your pan (sides and bottom), and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can also chop the nuts and toss them with cinnamon for later use.
2. Layer the first 8 sheets of phyllo dough. Place 2 sheets in the pan and coat them with butter. Then, add 2 more and more butter. Continue until you’ve layered 8 sheets.
Remember to keep a damp cloth over the phyllo dough while you’re working. Otherwise, it can dry out remarkably quickly.
3. Add the cinnamon-nut mixture. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons on top of the 8th sheet of dough.
4. Continue layering the baklava. Next, add 2 more layers of dough. Coat them with butter and the cinnamon-nut mixture. Then, add 2 more sheets, more butter, and more cinnamon-nut mixture.
Continue until you layer 6 to 8 more pieces. The depth of your pan will determine whether you use 6 or 8.
5. Cut the baklava. Jump down to the recipe card to see how to slice the dough into pieces.
6. Bake. Baklava needs about 50 minutes to bake. When it’s ready, it’ll be golden and have its signature crispiness.
7. Make the sauce. Combine the sugar and water and bring them to a boil. Once the sugar is completely melted, add the vanilla and honey. Simmer the sauce for 20 more minutes.
8. Sauce the baklava. After removing the baklava from the oven, spoon the sauce over it immediately. Then, let it cool.
9. Serve and enjoy! Once the baklava is cool, transfer it to a serving platter. Place the individual pieces on squares of parchment paper. Enjoy!
How to Store Baklava
Since this dessert is full of pastry and sticky honey, storing it isn’t as easy as simply wrapping it in plastic.
1. For the first day, leave the baklava uncovered.
Cover it loosely with a paper towel if you’re afraid something might fly into it. If you cover it too soon, it’ll get moist and soggy.
2. Store it at room temperature or in the refrigerator after the first day. Either way, transfer it to an air-tight container first.
It’ll last for up to 2 weeks using either method. However, storing it at room temperature will keep it as crispy as possible. The refrigerator will cause it to get a bit chewy.
Can You Freeze Baklava?
Surprisingly, baklava freezes beautifully. Here’s how to do it:
- Allow the dessert to cool completely.
- Wrap the baklava in a layer of plastic wrap.
- Wrap the plastic-wrapped baklava in a layer of aluminum foil.
- Wrap it in a second layer of aluminum foil.
- Add a date and label to the outside layer of foil.
- Place the wrapped baklava in the freezer.
It should remain fresh for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you want to serve it.
Tips for the Best Baklava
Ready to make this delightful dish? Or are you still a little intimidated?
Maybe these tips will help you decide:
- Thaw the dough properly. Phyllo dough needs 12 to 14 hours in the fridge to thaw. Do not remove it from the package. It will dry out.
- Keep a bowl of water nearby. When slicing the baklava, you must hold it steady with your fingers. It’s easier to do this if your fingers are damp, so keep some water nearby.
- Don’t chop the nuts too small. Chop them, but don’t grind them into powder. You want them large enough to provide texture.
- It tastes best on day 2! If you want to make the baklava a day beforehand, go for it! It tastes the best on the second day, anyway.
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