For many Arab households, Baklawa is a must-have dessert for any celebration. And if you’re making a tray of Baklawa, you simply have to invite friends and family over to share. It’s world famous and such a unique dessert. Growing up as an Iraqi, I’ve had my fair share of Baklawa and have learned to make it myself to satisfy my craving.
You have crunchy phyllo dough layers sandwiching the most delicious cardamom-flavored nut mixture, all doused in simple syrup. Some make it with walnut, some with pistachios, and others flavor it with rosewater. No matter which variation you try – you’re going to fall in love.
I wanted to share my love of Baklawa with the world, and show that you really can have it in the comfort of your own home. It’s not a difficult dessert to execute. The trickiest part for me is the cutting phase and getting those perfect diamond shapes. But other than that, it’s simply a layering affair.
- 20–22 sheets of filo pastry (two 500g packages with 10–11 sheets each)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 kg walnuts
- 3 tablespoons ground green cardamom
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 and quarter cups water
- Pan size: 18 inch by 13 inch
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Start by making the simple syrup by putting the sugar and the water in a pot and bringing to a boil. Once it boils, lower to a simmer for 7 minutes. Allow to cool
- To prepare the filling, grind the walnuts in a food processor until you achieve a coarse consistency (as pictured). Each walnut should break up to about a fifth of its size
- Mix the walnuts with the ground cardamom and also add 3/4 cups simple syrup (leave the rest for later). Mix until it looks well combined and wet
- Melt the butter and mix it with the vegetable oil
- Unwrap the first filo pastry box (it dries out so work fast). Measure the dimensions against your pan (I used a 13 inch by 18 inch pan) and snip any excess using scissors. The filo sheets should sit inside the pan up to the edges
- Start the layering process by brushing the bottom of the pan generously with the butter/oil. Then layer 3 sheets of filo on top, ensuring you press down and remove air bubbles as best as you can every time you add a sheet
- Brush the third layer of filo generously with the butter/oil, then continue layering, brushing every third layer. If you are using 10 or 11 sheets, also brush the top most layer with butter/oil (even if it is not the third sheet). If you have more sheets, feel free to use up to 15 layers
- Spoon the walnut mixture onto the filo pastry covering it all evenly and pack it down using the back of a spoon or your hand
- Unwrap the second box of filo pastry and measure it the same way. Then start layering the filo sheets and brush every third sheet generously with butter/oil, making sure you remove air bubbles. Continue until you reach the top, and also brush the top generously with butter/oil
- Using a sharp knife, make straight cuts parallel to the long edge of the pan, roughly 1 inch in size. Hold down the pastry gently as you cut, and use a rocking motion so the pastry does not drag out of place. You should be able to fit 8-10 rows if using the same size pan. You can also cut them bigger for an easier option
- Then make diagonal cuts running from one corner of the pan all the way to the opposite corner to create diamond shapes (refer to video). Go over all the cuts twice to ensure you cut all the layers
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until the Baklawa is a light golden colour
- Take it out of the oven and pour the remaining cooled simple syrup on top. You may hear a splashing sound and that’s okay!
- Optional: garnish with crushed pistachios and rose petals
- Allow the Baklawa to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!