Have you tried baklava yet? Read on to learn all about baklava, why it's important, and why you should try it as soon as possible.
Think of it: a dessert made with layer after layer of buttery paper-thin pastry sandwiched around crushed nuts soaked in sweet syrup. If that sounds appetizing to you, you’ll be happy to know that it exists in the form of baklava. Baklava is a beloved dessert by the Turks, Greeks, and other ethnic groups that has a surprisingly long history.
Many people have found reason to love baklava and it’s time to discover it for yourself too.
So what is baklava? What are the different regional variations of the dessert? If you want to know about baklava and why you should try it, then keep reading.
What is Baklava?
The baklava is a pastry dessert or patisserie that is layered with flaky phyllo dough, nuts, butter, sugar, and covered in a sweet syrup or honey. This pastry is beloved and traditionally made by people in the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans, and the Caucasus; the groups most closely associated being Turks, Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and Bulgarians.
What’s most remarkable about baklava is how it can be made into multiple shapes and sizes without losing its sweet taste.
Baklava History Through the Years
Many countries throughout history have tried to lay claim to this layered dessert, ranging from northern Africa all the way to Central Asia. Yet, the spread of baklava is mainly attributed to the rise of the Ottoman Empire. Baklava was first baked in 1473 inside the Imperial Ottoman Palace in Constantinople, which was the ultimate culinary hub of the empire.
Until the nineteenth century, it was a dessert only served to the upper class and the rich. One example of the power it used to have is the Turkish saying “I am not rich enough to eat baklava every day”. Nowadays,
The origin of the name of the dessert itself is controversial. The Turkish people say it comes from the word baklağı or baklağu. In another case, it may come from the Mongolian root baγla, meaning “to tie, wrap up, pile up”. In another form, some claim that the suffix –va at the end of the name suggests it has Persian or Arab origins.
In any case, baqlawa/baklawa is used in the Arab world today whereas the Greeks call it baklava.
Baklava Ingredients You Need
To make this, you need a lot of ingredients to make your baklava into pure perfection. The ingredients you need for the typical baklava are:
- Phyllo dough
- Finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios
- Unsalted butter
- Lemon juice
For the phyllo dough, you can choose to make it homemade or with pre-made dough stored in a refrigerator. While some of these things may not be part of your usual home baker’s pantry, be rest assured that you will come up with a delectable dessert that will have your yiayia grinning throughout the meal.
The Turkish baklava is the most well-known variation of the baklava and Turkey has become the most famous country producing it. Phyllo sheets are often rolled out until they appear almost transparent before it is layered and buttered. The nuts used are typically Gaziantep pistachios, Aegean almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts derived from the Black Sea region of Turkey. The Turkish also prefer using simple syrup over honey.
One immediate difference you can see when looking at Russian baklava is that instead of piling each layer on one at a time, the entire box of premade phyllo dough is rolled tightly so every nut, chunk of butter, and sugar is easily distributed inside of it. It makes for a very unique look. Another difference is they prefer putting honey as opposed to simple syrup.
How to Make Baklava
Reading about baklava’s history is interesting, but how exactly do you make it? Here is how you can make baklava the next time you are hosting a dinner party.
- Preheat oven to 325F
- Let premade phyllo sheets come to room temperature
- Combine water, honey, sugar, and lemon juice, heating until sugar is dissolved to make syrup
- Set the syrup aside and let cool
- Mix nuts and cinnamon together
- Melt the needed butter
- Layer 8 layers of phyllo in the pan and brush each layer with butter
- Sprinkle the nuts on top of it
- Add 4 more phyllo sheets and brush the layers with butter
- Repeat until there are no more nuts
- Cut into horizontal strips, then cut diagonally
- Bake for fifty minutes to an hour until the top is golden brown
- Top with syrup once removed from the oven
- Let cool before serving
Guests will ooh and ahh at the flaky layers made during the process. It may require a lot of steps, but the end result is worth the hard work.
Bake Some Baklava at Your Next Party
Baklava in all forms has found many fans and devotees from around the world who love it for its nuttiness and sweetness while fulfilling what most people want in a dessert. Whether you try out the Turkish, Russian, or other countries’ versions of it, you will end up with a delicacy that everyone will be begging you to make for each special occasion. Just be sure to thank the Ottomans for spreading it around the world!
We hope you enjoyed learning about how to make baklava. We offer other recipes that will fulfill your food porn desires. Check out our Baking & Dessert section to learn about more baking methods and recipes.