Greek Holiday Baklava

My stepfather’s family is Greek and since I was raised in his household, I grew up with amazing Baklava that we had every holiday season. Every year, it was always traditionally the same. As I have adult children of my own now, I have made Baklava myself for many years and have tweaked the syrup some from how my mother taught me to make it. I hope you enjoy! This recipe is way easier than you’d think!

Bakalava fresh out of the oven – before syrup

Ingredients

Baklava

  • 1  pound of raw, unsalted nuts (I use walnuts)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 pkg phyllo dough
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • Whole cloves for middle of each piece

Instructions

Baklava

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • Chop the nuts very fine. You can do this by hand or in a food processor.
  • After the nuts are fine, mix the ground spices into them.
  • Unroll the phyllo and place it on a cookie sheet. Cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and then with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out quickly.
  • Place 5 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of your baking dish. Brush generously with the melted butter.
  • Sprinkle 5 to 6 tablespoons of the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo.
  • Add 2 more sheets of phyllo dough and brush with butter after every layer.
  • Continue to layer the nuts and phyllo sheets, brushing the sheets with butter as you go, until you have used all of the nut mixture.
  • For the top layer of phyllo, use 6 to 8 sheets, buttering each one.
  • Now, using a very sharp knife, cut the Baklava all the way through, into 4 long rows. Then cut diagonally to make diamond shapes.
  • Place in the preheated oven ad bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown.

Baklava still very hot with fresh syrup poured on

Syrup

  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon or orange juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • peel from 1 lemon or orange washed, cut in strips, and pith removed

Instructions

Syrup

  • Combine the brown sugar and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add the honey, cinnamon sticks, cloves and citrus peel and return to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the cloves, peels and cinnamon sticks. The peel is “candied” now so you can use it in other recipes.
  • Add the lemon or orange juice and the vanilla and mix well.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • After removing the Baklava from the oven, immediately pour the syrup over the top (It will absorb all of the syrup as it cools).
  • Allow the Baklava to cool completely before serving. *My family always put one clove in the middle of each piece of baklava. It holds the top layers together & its a Greek thing!

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