Walnut Baklawa (Arabic Style)

Baklawa is one of the most well known Middle Eastern pastries. It’s typically very sweet, which is probably what makes Baklawa so popular as a dessert after a heavy lunch or dinner. But good Baklawa is more than just sweet, it’s crispy, nutty and slightly buttery.

Today, I’m going to show my recipe for Baklawa with a delicious walnut filling, which is one of the most popular varieties in the Middle East.

Baklava walnut Baklawa Welcome2Jordan

What is Baklawa?

Baklawa (also spelled Baklava) is a sweet pastry made of filo pastry layers stuffed with nuts (usually walnuts or pistachios). It’s baked crispy in the oven and then sweetened with a simple sugar syrup. Baklawa is a hugely popular pastry across the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Baklawa is a century-old dish. It’s believed to have originated in the Ottoman Empire which covered much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. For this reason, Baklawa is popular in many countries across the Middle East (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon etc), Turkey, some Mediterranean countries (e.g. Greece) as well as in many Balkan countries.

In the Middle East, the sweet pastry is commonly enjoyed after a meal, alongside tea or coffee. It’s also very popular on special occasions (from birthdays, Ramadan to Eid festivals).

There are several varieties of Baklawa, varying mostly in shape and stuffing, from traditional to creative. The classic phyllo-layer-Baklawa is by far the most popular. Other popular varieties are Baklava fingers and nests (made with vermicelli). There is also a cream Baklava known as Shabiyaat or Warbat in Arab cuisine (or Şöbiyet in Turkish cuisine). The best is probably a combination of all in one box!

Ingredients

With Baklawa being hugely popular across a large region, it comes as no surprise that there are many ways to prepare it. There is not just “that one” recipe. In fact, every country and even every family has their own recipe and their own way of making it. In the Middle East, Baklawa is typically sweetened with a simple syrup (made of water, sugar and rose water), while other countries use honey. Below is a list of the ingredients for Middle Eastern style walnut Baklawa the way you’ll find it in the Levantine countries (e.g. Jordan or Syria).

  • Phyllo dough: Phyllo dough (or filo dough) is a very thin unleavened dough that is usually sold in rolled-up, pre-cut sheets. Phyllo dough is a popular ingredient for many pastries (Middle Eastern and Western) and is therefore available at most grocery stores (refrigerated or frozen).
  • Walnuts: Baklawa are traditionally filled with nuts, with walnuts, pistachios or almonds being most popular. For my recipe, I’ll be using walnuts. They are readily available and affordable in most parts of the world.
  • Cinnamon (optional): A pinch of cinnamon (cinnamon powder) for a slightly sweet and warm flavor that matches perfectly with the walnuts. Cinnamon is optional.
  • Butter (or ghee): Butter (or ghee) is used to brush the phyllo dough layers and prevents the dough from sticking to the sheet and from drying out. It also contributes to the taste of Baklawa.
  • Syrup: Baklawa is sweetened with a simple sugar syrup. For the syrup, you need sugar and water (optionally a bit of lemon juice to help break down the sugar). If available, add a pinch of rose water and/or orange blossom water to your syrup to give it a Middle Eastern touch.

Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.

How to Make Baklawa (Step-by-Step)

Ready to make Baklawa? Yallah, let’s get started!

Step 1: Prepare the syrup

The first step is to prepare the simple sugar syrup which will be poured over the Baklawa after baking it. This is essentially where the Baklawa will get its sweetness from. Therefore, it’s an important step not to miss out (more on that below).

To prepare the syrup, combine water, sugar and a few drops of lemon juice in a saucepan. The lemon is an optional ingredient. It helps the sugar molecules break down, but you won’t taste it in the final product. If you have lemon available, I recommend that you add a few drops, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. Bring the water to a boil on high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce to low-medium and simmer for 7-8 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the stove. Stir in the rose water and orange blossom water. Leave to cool while you continue with the next steps.

Step 2: Prepare the nut filling

Next, prepare the walnut filling. For the best taste, start by roasting the whole walnuts (keep some aside for garnish). Heat a flat pan over medium and add the walnuts into the pan. Don’t add any butter or oil to the pan when roasting the nuts! Roast the nuts for about 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove the roasted nuts from the pan. Place on a cutting board and roughly chop with a knife or briefly grind them in a food processor. Be careful not to overbled them. You don’t need finely grinded nuts, but the texture should be coarse.

Transfer the chopped nuts to a bowl. Add cinnamon powder and mix well. Then add about ¼ of the syrup, mix well to incorporate.

Step 3: Prepare the phyllo layers

Unpack the phyllo dough and cut off the sides (if needed) to make the sheets fit your baking pan. I used a 20×25 cm (10×8 inch) baking pan. If yours is slightly larger or smaller, that’s fine, as you’ll get the right proportions of phyllo and filling.

If your baking pan is much larger than mine, you’d have to adapt the quantities of the nut filling. Even when making a large tray of Baklawa, it always consists of 10-15 layers of phyllo dough, followed by the nut filling, and another 10-15 layers on the top.

Step 4: Assemble (layer)

Add butter to a small bowl. Heat up in the microwave for about a minute to melt. You could also use ghee instead of butter, both work well and it really comes down to your personal preference. Personally, I love the buttery taste in Baklawa, but some of my friends use only ghee and that tastes good too!

Brush your baking pan with melted butter (or ghee). Place the first layer of phyllo dough onto the butter. Again, brush with butter/ghee, then place the next phyllo layer. Gently press down to make sure the phyllo dough sticks onto the previous layer. What’s important when assembling the Baklawa is that there should be no large air bubbles between the dough layers. Repeat the process with the first 10 sheets. You could use up to 15 dough layers if you prefer a thicker Baklawa. For me, 10-12 sheets is just right.

Spread the walnut mixture evenly onto the baking pan. Now, repeat the layering process (phyllo – butter/ghee – phyllo) with the next 10 phyllo sheets. Remember to brush the top layer with butter/ghee to avoid it from drying out and breaking during baking.

Gently cut the Baklawa into small squares or diamonds (about 3 cm / 1 inch in size). Hold down the pastry to ensure it stays in place.

Step 5: Bake

Put the baking pan into the preheated oven. Bake at 180°C (350F) for about 40-45 minutes until the upper layer is golden brown and crispy.

Step 6: Add syrup, leave to cool, serve

Remove from the oven. Pour the syrup over the warm Baklawa, immediately after baking (you’ll hear a splashing sound). Allow the Baklawa to soak up all the syrup and to cool for about 1-2 hours before you serve it. Garnish with chopped walnuts or pistachios. Serve at room temperature.

Baklawa recipe

When to Eat Baklawa?

In the Middle East, Baklawa is hugely popular as a dessert or small treat in between meals. People typically have one or two pieces of Baklawa with coffee or tea right after a main course.

Whatever the occasion, you can’t go wrong with Baklawa. Serve it as a dessert when having guests, as a sweet treat to accompany your afternoon tea or during Ramadan or Eid festivals. You’ll often find Baklawa alongside other Middle Eastern desserts like Knafeh.

Since Baklawa can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, it makes a great gift for friends and family. A box of Baklawa (homemade or store bought) is a wonderful gift idea when visiting someone’s home.

Make Ahead & Storage

Although the smell of freshly baked Baklawa is mouth watering, it’s crucial to leave it to cool completely (at room temperature) after baking. Once cooled, you can store it in an airtight container in one or two layers. Baklawa should absolutely be stored at room temperature, not in the fridge. Baklawa keeps well and can therefore perfectly be preferred ahead of time!

Traditionally, butter/ghee is brushed onto every single phyllo layer which makes the process a little time consuming. Nowadays, some people use a shortcut, brushing butter only on every 2-3 phyllo dough sheets. That is totally possible and won’t affect the taste much, as long as you make sure there are no air bubbles between the phyllo layers.

If you’d like to freeze Baklawa, arrange them in a container in a single layer. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature and enjoy!

Any Questions or Feedback?

If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.

Baklava walnut Baklawa Welcome2Jordan

Walnut Baklawa

Kitty Ramasamy
Baklawa is a sweet pastry with layers of crispy filo dough layers filled with nuts. It’s popular in Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek cuisine.
Rate this recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Turkish
Servings 30 pieces
Calories 151 kcal

Equipment

baking pan (25×20 cm | 10×8 inch)

Ingredients
 

For the Baklava:

  • 20 pcs phyllo dough sheets 20 sheets = 1 pack
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) butter or ghee
  • 300 g (2.5 cups) walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

For the syrup:

  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) water
  • 175 g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice optional
  • 1/2 tsp rose water optional
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water optional

Instructions
 

  • First, prepare the syrup. Add water, sugar and a few drops of lemon juice to a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce to low-medium and simmer for 7-8 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the stove. Stir in the rose water and orange blossom water. Leave to cool while you prepare the Baklawa.
  • Next, prepare the walnut filling. For the best taste, start by roasting the whole walnuts (keep some aside for garnish). Heat a flat pan over medium and add the whole walnuts into the pan (without oil/butter!). Briefly roast (1-2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove the roasted nuts from the pan.
  • Chop the nuts using a chef’s knife or grind them in a food processor. The texture should be coarse (not too fine!). Transfer the chopped nuts to a bowl.
  • Add cinnamon powder to the nuts and mix well. Then add about ¼ of the syrup to the nuts, mix well to incorporate.
  • Unpack the phyllo dough and cut off the sides with scissors (if needed) to make the sheets fit your baking pan. I used a 20×25 cm (10×8 inch) baking pan. If yours is slightly larger or smaller, that’s fine, as you’ll get the right proportions of phyllo and filling.
  • Melt butter in a microwave (or use ghee). Brush your baking pan with melted butter. Place the first layer of phyllo dough onto the butter/ghee. Again, brush with butter/ghee, then place the next phyllo layer. Gently press down to make sure the phyllo dough sticks onto the previous layer (there should be no large air bubbles). Repeat the process with the first 10 sheets.
  • Spread the walnut mixture evenly onto the baking pan.
  • Now, repeat the layering process (phyllo – butter/ghee / phyllo) with the next 10 phyllo sheets. Remember to brush the top layer with butter/ghee to avoid it from drying out and breaking during baking.
  • Gently cut the Baklawa into small squares or diamonds (about 3 cm / 1 inch in size). Hold down the pastry to ensure it stays in place.
  • Place the baking pan in the preheated oven. Bake at 180°C (350F) for about 40-45 minutes until the upper layer is golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove from the oven. Pour the syrup onto the warm Baklava, immediately after baking (you’ll hear a splashing sound).
  • Allow the Baklawa to soak up all the syrup and leave to cool for about 1-2 hours before you serve it. Garnish with chopped walnuts or pistachios. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

  • You can use butter or ghee. Be sure to melt the butter beforehand so you can spread it easily onto the phyllo dough.
  • Traditionally, butter/ghee is brushed onto every single phyllo layer which makes the process a little time consuming. Many people use a shortcut, brushing butter only on every 2-3 phyllo dough sheets. That is totally possible and won’t affect the taste much, as long as you make sure there are no air bubbles between the phyllo layers.
  • Pour the sugar syrup onto the hot Baklawa, right after removing it from the oven. It might seem a lot, but it will soak into the layers as you leave it to cool. Baklawa is meant to be very sweet, and the dish gets its sweetness from the sugar syrup. It takes 1-2 hours for the Baklava to soak up the syrup, so be sure to allow some time before serving.
  • I used a 25×20 cm (10×8 inch) baking pan. It’s a medium-size baking pan which I use when making Baklawa (or other treats) for my family and a few guests at max. You can totally use a larger baking pan to make a large quantity. Keep in mind that if your baking pan is much larger than mine, you’d mainly have to adapt the quantities of the nut filling. Even when making a large tray of Baklawa, it always consists of 10-15 layers of phyllo dough, followed by the nut filling, and another 10-15 layers on the top.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 151kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 3gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 89mgPotassium: 56mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 65IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.

Keyword Baklawa, Baklava
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