Don’t let the steps or ingredients scare you: this Best Ever Baklava is perfect and EASY in every way! Sticky, crispy, crunchy, gooey and sweet – it’s the whole package!
So I have a confession to make: I don’t do honey.
How? Why? Who put me in charge of a dessert food blog? Who gave me permission to write three books? What is my home planet?
But hear me out: it gives me migraines! The smell, the taste – I can’t do it and I’m sad about it, you guys.
However, I knew I needed a quality, easy, stick-to-your-ribs baklava recipe for my beloved readers, even if I couldn’t partake in its sticky, gooey glory. The things I do for love.
And I admit, I took one for the team and ate a square or two. It was so worth it and surprisingly, I had no ill after effects… unless you count wanting to devour the entire pan an “ill after effect.” 🙂
Baklava is surprisingly simple to make even though the ingredients list or steps of preparation may scare some folks off. Is baklava a quick and fast dessert? Absolutely not. It requires a LOT of patience, time, and some labor involved in ensuring your baklava is successful and delicious. But it’s worth the effort and can please a crowd because you can cut the squares (or diamonds, as is traditional) as small or large as you wish.
Baklava is composed of three distinctive parts: phyllo dough, nuts, and honey syrup. Remember, phyllo dough is NOT the same as puff pastry. Phyllo is paper-thin (think tissue paper for gift wrapping) and extremely delicate and fragile. Puff pastry is more croissant-like and that won’t work here at all. Both phyllo and puff pastry exist next to each other in the freezer section, but make sure you get phyllo! The brand that’s most common is Athens brand.
The nuts can be really anything you want, but walnuts are generally pretty standard. I think a combination of walnuts and pistachios could be really delicious, and I’ve even made a “Pecan Pie Baklava” using pecans. The walnuts are mixed with a little dash of cinnamon for flavor and are imperative for baklava!
Lastly, the honey syrup is paramount to a great baklava. It consists of honey, water, granulated sugar, and a squeeze of lemon for freshness and authentic flavor. In my recipe, you pour the cooled honey syrup onto the piping hot, fresh-from-the-oven baklava so it penetrates each layer and allows everything to stick together cohesively.
And when it all bakes together, magic happens!
Seriously, can we make every day baklava day?
Best Ever (Easy!) Baklava
- One 16 ounce pkg phyllo dough thawed according to package directions
- ¾ cup (1& 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter melted
- 4 cups finely chopped walnuts I recommend pulsing them in a food processor about 4 times if whole because you want tiny pieces
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- Juice of one small lemon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13" rectangular baking pan on the bottom and sides. (Don't use part of the butter in the recipe). In a large bowl, combine the chopped walnuts and cinnamon until coated. Set aside.
- First, make your honey syrup as it needs time to cool while your baklava is being prepared and baking. In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, water, honey, and lemon juice over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, then reduce heat to medium-low and boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Unroll the phyllo dough and trim to fit the pan if necessary. Place one damp towel down on the counter, put the phyllo dough on the towel, and cover with another damp towel. Keep the phyllo covered at ALL times, even if it is only 15 seconds. Phyllo dries out very quickly and needs to be kept under a moist towel constantly.
- Place one phyllo sheet into the bottom of the pan. Brush with melted butter using a pastry brush. Repeat 9 times for a total of 10 buttered sheets in the pan. Spread with 3/4 cup of the nut mixture. Add 5 more buttered sheets, buttering and layering one at a time, then top with another 3/4 cup of nut mixture. Repeat four times - 5 more sheets, 3/4 cup nuts, etc.
- Lastly, finish off with 10 buttered and layered phyllo sheets. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the baklava gently and carefully into strips, then cut diagonally into diamonds.
- Bake for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes or until baklava is browned on top and crisp. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cooled honey syrup evenly over the top. The baklava will sizzle, bubble and may pop - this is great! Allow mixture to come to room temperature and cool completely, then cover loosely with a dry tea towel and let set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, before serving. It needs time for the honey syrup to penetrate the layers fully.
It may not be a fast dessert, but it certainly is a delicious one that’s worth the wait!
Have a super sweet day!