Authentic Walnut Baklava Recipe – Cookin’ with Mima


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This amazing Walnut Baklava recipe comes together with layers and layers of flaky phyllo dough that’s filled with 3 layers of ground walnuts and showered with love with the most delicious aromatic simple syrup. How can one resist such goodness?

As they says, you get back what you put into it. I believe when making certain desserts and you expect them to taste AMAZING, there is no room for shortcuts. You will know how worth it it was when you take the first bite of this Walnut Baklava. I am confident that this homemade baklava recipe is the best you will find out there. The feedback I always get from people when I make baklava is ” It’s seriously better than store bought”. So this is your no fail baklava recipe.

Walnut baklava in a pan with pieces removed.

If you’re making simple syrup from scratch for this baklava, then you’re likely to have some left over. So if you’d like to try more Lebanese dessert recipes that use simple syrup, here are a few that my family loves to make: Lebanese Shaabiyat Dessert, Lebanese Nights Dessert, and my Atayef recipe. They’re are not too complicated and are so delicious! 

What is Baklava?

Baklava is a layered pastry dessert that is traditionally made from phyllo pastry sheets that are filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey. However, due to the long history of baklava, “traditional” may slightly differ with regional differences.

Origin of Baklava

The origin of baklava was not very well documented as it pre-dates the Ottoman-era! There are roots to (and not limited to) Turkey, Greece, Iran, Lebanon, Armenia with baklava and is thought to have gone back as far as the 2nd century BC, where baklava resembles an Ancient Roman placenta cake.

Every region has added their own unique twist to it over time so it’s really hard to say where it has come from. For this Lebanese version, the twist is the use of Lebanese Simple Syrup (Ater). It is a sweet sugar syrup that is infused with rose and orange blossom water, lending the baklava a fragrant floral note.

A plate with eight portions of walnut baklava.

Why You’ll Love This Baklava

  • It’s show stopping. There’s no denying how beautiful this walnut baklava recipe is. You will absolutely impress your friends and family if you pull this out of the oven!
  • It’s “easy.” Hear me out, baklava looks super complicated and there are a lot of steps to it but the steps are super easy to follow and a lot of the work is layering the baklava!
  • It’s so tasty. It’s better than store-bought! There’s rarely any leftovers when I bring this out!

What You’ll Need

  • Phyllo sheet — you can find this in the frozen pastry section at your local grocery store
  • Ghee
  • Simple Syrup — you can make your own simple sugar syrup by following this post.
  • Ground pistachios
  • Whole walnuts — just the normal ones at the store
  • Powdered sugar

How to Make Baklava from Scratch

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Make the syrup: Prepare the simple syrup first and let it cool. Make sure your ghee is melted as well.
  • Make the walnut filling: Process the walnuts and powdered sugar in a processors. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Making the walnut filling for baklava.
  • Prepare the phyllo sheets: Unfold the phyllo sheets onto a large cutting board. Smooth out the phyllo sheets to flatten and align the sheets evenly. Note: If you have a smaller size of phyllo sheet, you do not need to do this step. You will have to trip the edges of those sheets on the pan. Place the baking pan on top of the phyllo stack as a guide to cut the stack of phyllo to fit the pan. Repeat for the second pack of phyllo sheets.
Using the round pan to cut phyllo shape.
  • Layer the baklava: see down below in blog post or recipe card for how to layer the walnut baklava.
Set of two photos showing phyllo sheets in a round container and then brushed with ghee and syrup.
Set of three photos showing walnuts put on top of phyllo, then more phyllo layered on top.
  • Cut the baklava: Cut the baklava into 4 equal triangles. Then each triangle in half to form 8 triangles total. From one wedge at a time, make two straight cuts, 1 inch apart, parallel to other side of triangle. Make two more cuts, parallel to opposite side of same triangle, creating a diamond pattern. Repeat process in remaining 7 wedges.
top down shots showing how to cut baklava.
  • Bake the baklava: Place the tray on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 45 minutes. At this point the edges and baklava should be lightly brown in color and you can turn on the top broiler for just 1-2 minutes watching it “very closely” until you get the golden color you prefer. “Do not” take your eyes off of it or else they will burn super fast.
Baked walnut baklava cut into diamond shapes.
  • Top with syrup: Remove from the oven right away and drizzle 1¼ cup of simple syrup evenly all over the baklava. Use more or less to preference but this amount was perfect for us. I like using a squeezable bottle to spread the syrup evenly on the baklava.

Here’s a summary of how to layer your baklava. For detailed instructions, please see the recipe card.

  • Brush the pan with ghee
  • Place one sheet of phyllo and brush again. Repeat 9 more times to get a total of 10 sheets, brushing in between
  • Press down well, making sure there aren’t any air bubbles
  • Add 1½ cup ground walnut
  • Top with 5 brushed phyllo sheets
  • Press down well, making sure it’s even and there are no air bubbles
  • Add another 1½ cup ground walnut
  • Top with another 5 brushed phyllo sheets
  • Press down well
  • Add the final 1½ cup ground walnut
  • Place the final 10 brushed phyllo sheets on top
  • Press down well and brush the top with ghee

Tips and Notes

  • Be sure to thaw your phyllo sheets ahead of time. As they’re sold in the freezer section, you’ll have to thaw them overnight in the fridge or quickly on the counter at room temperature. If there’s still kind of frozen and damp, the moisture will make the phyllo hard to work with.
  • If you are using a smaller phyllo sheet as mentioned and cant get the round cut, you can layer and brush the phyllo layers as mentioned and cut the edges before adding in the walnuts layer each time and the last layer on top. Another thing you can do is just use a smaller tray if you like to fit that sheet, but you will end up using less of the amounts of  walnuts, ghee and simple syrup. If this is too challenging to cut, you can always just do it in a rectangular or square tray and cut them into squares.
  • If your phyllo pastry rips, it’s ok, don’t fret. After it’s been baked, no one will notice!
  • Cover the phyllo sheets with a damp towel as you work your way through them to prevent them from drying out.
  • Be sure to start your syrup early so it has time to cool. If the syrup is hot, you’ll find that it’s difficult for the baklava to absorb it.
  • Be sure not to forget to cut the baklava before you bake it! It’ll be much harder to slice clean pieces after it’s been baked as the phyllo sheets are so flaky and won’t cut evenly.
Multiple walnut baklava stacked on top of each other.

FAQs

Can I use puff pastry instead of phyllo sheets?

Despite puff pastry dough being flakey in texture, the two cannot be swapped for this baklava. Puff pastry puffs up while it bakes so it isn’t ideal in a baklava.

Why is baklava so high in calories?

Unfortunately, baklava has a lot of sugar leading to it being high in calories. The walnuts are processed with powdered sugar and we also coat it with simple syrup at the end. We also use ghee which is high in calories. However, as long as you enjoy baklava in moderation, it’s ok to indulge!

Do I have to use simple syrup?

You can use honey instead of simple syrup. Some people like their baklava with honey but i prefer using simple syrup that’s been infused with orange blossoms water. It make a huge difference in flavor.

Can you use other nuts?

You can! Feel free to change things up and use your favorite type of nut or combination of nuts.

Can I use butter instead of ghee?

Yes and no. Let me explain, you can make ghee with butter by simmering butter for 20-30 minutes and then straining it through a cheesecloth. Butter doesn’t provide the same finish to baklava that ghee does so I prefer to use ghee. Ghee also tastes much richer and flavorful compared to butter.

Can I make this ahead? How do I store Baklava?

Definitely make this ahead of time! You can make it a couple days before you need it and allow it to cool before storing in an airtight container. If you leave it at room temperature, it stays crispy. You can keep the baklava in the fridge as well. This will keep for at least a week before it starts drying up but they might be eaten before then!

Can I freeze baklava?

You can freeze baklava! Wrap it up tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Depending on how much baklava you have to freeze, I suggest freezing it in small portions so you can pull out however much you’d like to eat. You don’t want to thaw it then refreeze it multiple times. When ready to eat, just allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight.

Cut out of walnut baklava shaped like a star.

More Lebanese Recipes To Try

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Walnut Baklava recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it and share it with your friends and family!

If you try this recipe and like it, please use my hashtag to share it with me on INSTAGRAM for a chance to be featured in my story! Also, follow me at Cookin’ With Mima on FACEBOOK |INSTAGRAM |PINTEREST for all of my latest social posts and recipes.

Walnut baklava in a pan with pieces removed.

Walnut Baklava Recipe

This amazing Walnut Baklava comes together with layers and layers of flaky phyllo dough that’s filled with 3 layers of ground walnuts and showered with love with the most delicious aromatic simple syrup. How can one resist such goodness?

Prep Time 30 mins

Cook Time 45 mins

Total Time 1 hr 15 mins

Instructions

  • Prepare the simple syrup first and let it cool.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.

  • Process the walnuts and powdered sugar in a processors. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  • Unfold the phyllo sheets onto a large cutting board. Smooth out the phyllo sheets to flatten and align the sheets evenly. Note: If you have a smaller size of phyllo sheet, you do not need to do this step. You will have to trip the edges of those sheets on the pan. See Notes section on how to do that.

  • Place the baking pan on top of the phyllo stack as a guide to cut the stack of phyllo to fit the pan. Repeat for the second pack of phyllo sheets.

  • Once your sheets are ready, brush the base of the pan with some ghee. Place one sheet of phyllo and brush again. Repeat 9 more times to get a total of 10 sheets, brushing in between. Add in 1.5 cup of the ground walnuts and spread evenly.

  • Add in one sheet again over the nuts and brush by dabbing only because it will move if you brush it. Add 4 more sheets, brushing in between each sheet. Before brushing the top of the 5th sheet, press down the surface very well with your palm to compress the nuts. Then brush with ghee.

  • Add another 1.5 cup of crushed walnuts and top with 5 more sheets the same way you did the first. One more layer of 1.5 cup ground walnuts and this time for the final layer, top with 10 sheets of phyllo instead of 5, just like we did in the bottom layer. Before brushing with ghee for the last time, press down the surface really well again with your palm to compress the layers.

  • Using a sharp knife with a pointed tip, cut the baklava into 4 equal triangles. Then each triangle in half to form 8 triangles total. From one wedge at a time, make two straight cuts, 1 inch apart, parallel to other side of triangle. Make two more cuts, parallel to opposite side of same triangle, creating a diamond pattern. Repeat process in remaining 7 wedges. Refer to my blog photos for step-by-step photo reference.

  • Place the tray on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 45 minutes. At this point the edges and baklava should be lightly brown in color and you can turn on the top broiler for just 1-2 minutes watching it “very closely” until you get the golden color you prefer. “Do not” take your eyes off of it or else they will burn super fast.

  • Remove from the oven right away and drizzle 1¼ cup of simple syrup evenly all over the baklava. Use more or less to preference but this amount was perfect for us. I like using a squeezable bottle to spread the syrup evenly on the baklava.

Notes

  • Be sure to thaw your phyllo sheets ahead of time. As they’re sold in the freezer section, you’ll have to thaw them overnight in the fridge or quickly on the counter at room temperature. If there’s still kind of frozen and damp, the moisture will make the phyllo hard to work with.
  • If you are using a smaller phyllo sheet as mentioned and cant get the round cut, you can layer and brush the phyllo layers as mentioned and cut the edges before adding in the walnuts layer each time and the last layer on top. Another thing you can do is just use a smaller tray if you like to fit that sheet, but you will end up using less of the amounts of  walnuts, ghee and simple syrup. If this is too challenging to cut, you can always just do it in a rectangular or square tray and cut them into squares.
  • If your phyllo pastry rips, it’s ok, don’t fret. After it’s been baked, no one will notice!
  • Cover the phyllo sheets with a damp towel as you work your way through them to prevent them from drying out.
  • Be sure to start your syrup early so it has time to cool. If the syrup is hot, you’ll find that it’s difficult for the baklava to absorb it.
  • Be sure not to forget to cut the baklava before you bake it! It’ll be much harder to slice clean pieces after it’s been baked as the phyllo sheets are so flaky and won’t cut evenly.

Nutrition

Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 49mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg






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