That famous phyllo pastry dessert that’s loved all over the world? Baklava. Half the world thinks it’s Greek. But did you know that the other half believe that baklava was really Turkish?
What is Baklava?
Baklava originated in the Turkish imperial kitchens in Istanbul in the 15th century.
The Sultan would present trays of baklava to his elite infantry called Janissaries.
This was done on the 15th of Ramadan in a procession called the Baklava Alayı.
But baklava probably originated many centuries earlier in 800 BC in the Assyrian Empire.
At that time,
Influences from the spice route soon added rose water, cardamom, and cinnamon to flavor the popular pastry.
But there was also a dessert called lauzinaj in the 13th-century Arabic cuisine that was made of very thin pastry but contained an almond paste.
Whether or not it was related to baklava is a matter of debate.
Or did baklava really originate in the ancient Greek kitchens of the 2nd century BC as plakous?
This version now has 33 layers of phyllo pastry to represent the years of Jesus Christ life.
Or did baklava originate even before that as the Ancient Roman placenta cake? We’ll leave that to the historians to decide.
In current times,
Turkish baklava uses a filling of walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
Hazelnuts are also a filling for the Black Sea region, for baklava and its cousin sutlu nuriye and milk as a substitute for molasses.
A cream called kaymak or ice cream is often used as a topping for baklava.
Authentic Baklava Recipe
2.5 c walnuts or your choice of nuts, chopped
1 pack frozen phyllo dough, thawed
4 oz unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tbsp candied walnuts/pistachio, finely chopped
1 c water
1 c sugar
1/2 c honey
Prepare the Baklava
a. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease baking pan with butter or vegetable oil (pan size used in this recipe: 8×8 in).
b. Using a pizza cutter to trim phyllo dough to fit your baking pan.
c. In a food processor, pulse walnuts or your choice of nuts until finely chopped or coarsely ground (based on your personal preference).
d. Place 5 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the baking pan. Brush each sheet with melted butter.
e. Add 1/2 c of chopped walnuts and spread them evenly on the surface of the phyllo.
f. Keep the remaining phyllo dough covered by its own plastic wrap, come with the package or a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
g. Add another 2 sheets of phyllo followed by 1/2 c of nuts. Remember to brush each phyllo with butter before putting the other one on top.
h. Repeat the process until all the chopped nuts are used (approximately 5 to 6 layers).
i. Finish baklava with at least 5 layers (max 10 layers) of phyllo on top. The more phyllo you put on top, the crispier the baklava will be.
j. Use a knife to cut the baklava into diamond or square shapes.
k. Bake baklava for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top turns golden brown
For garnishing the Baklava
a. When the baklava is done cooking, take it out from the oven and immediately pour the room-temperature honey syrup on top of the baklava.
b. There’ll be a sizzling sound. Let the baklava sit at room temperature and soak in the honey syrup, for at least 30 minutes.
c. Garnish baklava with chopped nuts before serving.
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