How to Make the Best Greek Baklava
This Greek Baklava recipe is everything you need to surprise friends and families with a delicious sweet of ancient Middle Eastern origins.
Baklava is an incredibly sweet desert made with layers of filo pastry and chopped nuts, drenched in a delicious honey syrup. But there’s more to baklava than this simple description. Let’s find out.
Have you ever heard of Baklava? Made with just a bunch of ingredients, this dish which looks complex and time consuming, is really easy to prepare once you get the hold of filo pastry (also fillo, phillo, phyllo, and more variations to the spelling).
Different Kinds of Baklava
As with any ancient recipe, you will find variations in every region where this dish is made. Originated in the Middle East, conquests and occupations have made Baklava travel all over the Mediterranean region.
You can find it in Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, Syria and yes… also in Greece. Today, there are many different types of baklava available, with unique tastes and ingredients!
You will be able to find baklava cut in different shapes and with varied fillings, ranging from walnuts and pistachios, to even carrots or drenched with syrup containing milk, a Baklava variety known as Sütlü Nuriye.
These are some of the varieties of Baklava that you can find:
Easier to find than pistachios, walnuts are the main ingredient in one of the most popular baklava recipes, the walnut baklava. The walnut Baklava variety is the one we use in this Greek Baklava recipe, as well as the one we often find on Crete.
Remember also that, on the island, more often than not walnuts are mixed with almonds (by the way, did you know that we have plenty of walnut trees on the island? This is for another chapter, though!).
Probably the most popular type of baklava, made with at least 40 layers of filo and filled with chopped pistachios, originally coming from Syria and Turkey.
Known as Şöbiyet in Turkey, this variety displays a milder taste and lighter sugar flavor, really delicious for those who don’t enjoy the intense sugary tastes of traditional Baklava.
The refreshing taste is obtained by the use of fresh cream added between the filo layers. Although it is really delicious, this baklava does not last as long as other varieties.
There is an Arabic variety of this Baklava recipe known as warbat, and it uses custard instead of fresh cream.
Nightingale Nest Baklava
Unique in shape and in flavor, this variety is quite popular in Istanbul’s pastry shops and adds a touch of originality to this traditional recipe.
This recipe is originally from the Anatolia region, and instead of placing one filo layer over the other, the filo dough sheets are rolled to form a cylindrical shape while the walnut or pistachio mix is placed in the middle.
Other Baklava varieties include dry Baklava, with a very long shelf life (about a month!), a very modern chocolate Baklava version.
You can check more Baklava recipes from Istanbul in this link.
Baklava from Crete
While all over the world, melted butter is used to work the filo pastry, however, if you want to keep it closer to the way we cook it in Crete, use Extra Virgin olive oil. You won’t only cut on calories, but it will be equally tasty, much healthier, and quite easier (no need to melt the oil, cutting on preparation times).
Another local variation is adding not only chopped walnuts to the filling, on the island we often mix nuts with almond which makes it a bit more bitter and pleasant to the taste. In fact, almonds add a touch to the aroma making it really inviting.
You will also find rolled baklava on Crete, although the ingredients are basically the same, this recipe requires you to roll the filo pastry around the mixture placed over two buttered sheets of filo and then cut into slices about 4 cm long.
Either cut in diamond slices on a pan or rolled like small nut-filled fingers, baklava remains a delicious, extremely sweet dessert that can be enjoyed with a cup of Cretan malotira tea, some hot Greek coffee or even a shot of tsikoudia.
Learn How to Store Baklava
The best way to store Baklava (provided you do not eat the whole tray once it’s cooled down!) is to keep it inside an airtight container and at room temperature. Homemade Baklava can last up to 5 days or even a week this way.
If you want to store it longer, then you can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.
Make Your Own Baklava Recipe!
Probably originating in the multicultural Ottoman Empire, Baklava recipes has traveled among different countries through the centuries.
It has been made by the Turkish and the Greeks as well as by Armenians, Arabs, Albanians, Bulgarians, Lebanese, Hungarians, Persians, Russians, and more… and the best part of it? You can create your own version too!
You can use this basic Greek Baklava recipe and vary it according to your taste or the ingredients you have at home… it can be the beginning of a unique home tradition: Your own!