Project Food Blog: A Classic Greek Dessert

The second challenge of Project Food Blog is to make a classic dish from another culture that is outside your comfort zone. After considering several different ethnic foods, I settled on Greek food in honor of Russ. He is half Greek, studied Greek history in college, and would have had a very cool Greek last name if it hadn’t been Americanized at Ellis Island.

In the process of researching some classic Greek dishes, I came across some fantastic desserts, including the most well-known classic, baklava. I have a vivid memory from several years ago when Russ attempted to make baklava. I was in the kitchen too and added extra honey (cause who doesn’t like a little honey?) and totally ruined it, making super sticky, sweet and wet.

Since then, I’ve never wanted to try making it again. Which brings us to now. This certainly took me out of my comfort zone, but I was determined to make it work!

First, I toasted the walnuts by baking them at 350°F for 10 minutes until they were aromatic, which brings out their flavor. I pulsed them in the food processor till finely chopped and tossed with sugar and spices. That alone tasted great – maybe a good snack idea in the future. Layering this between buttered phyllo dough wasn’t too difficult, and the syrup came together easily. I don’t know where we went wrong before!

I meant to take pictures of each step, but I always get too into cooking and baking to remember to do so. Here is the finished product up close:

And one piece (I couldn’t eat just one though!):

The best part was Russ’ reaction. He came home just before I pulled the baklava out of the oven and said, in a surprised tone, “Wow, it smells good in here!” Once the dish was out of the oven and covered in syrup, he told me, “I’m proud of you for making baklava.” Mission accomplished!

Baklava

  • 1 lb. toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • 1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 C butter, melted

For the syrup:

  • 1 C water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Lightly grease a 13″x9″ baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine finely chopped walnuts with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Roll out phyllo dough, cut sheets in half and cover with a damp towel.
Place a sheet of phyllo into the greased pan, then brush with melted butter. Layer it with 7 more sheets, brushing butter in between each one. On top of the 8th layer of phyllo, spread a thin layer of the walnut mixture. Layer with 2 more sheets of phyllo, brushing butter in between. Repeat pattern of 1 layer of nut mixture and 2 sheets of phyllo with butter until all of the walnut mixture is used. Once it is used up, layer 8 sheets of buttered phyllo for the top.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and refrigerate the baklava in the meantime to let the butter set (making it easier to slice). Then, using a sharp knife, cut diamond shaped pieces by cutting horizontally across the long side of the pan 5 times, then cutting diagonally across the entire pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and the edges appear slightly crisp.

While the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup. Combine water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in small saucepan over high heat. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or slightly thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and set aside to cool.

Once the baklava come out of the oven, evenly pour the syrup on top, getting in between all the pieces. Let cool, then serve warm or cold.

33 Comments on Project Food Blog: A Classic Greek Dessert

  1. Andrea
    September 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm (8 years ago)

    I’m glad you did the courageous thing and tried it again! The result looks fantastic – and looks like it would taste fantastic too!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Andrea! It was really good. I ate way more than my share and it was all gone in 2 days!

  2. Eileen
    September 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm (8 years ago)

    Your baklava looks great. I just worked with phyllo for the first time – takes a bit of getting use to. Good luck in this round!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Eileen! Phyllo dough can be difficult, particularly when it dries out. I have a lot leftover that’s been sitting in my fridge and while I don’t want to waste it, I’m sort of dreading using it.

  3. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels
    September 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm (8 years ago)

    Good for you and giving the baklava another try! It looks absolutely delicious and your pictures are beautiful. Good luck and congrats on making it to the 2nd round! 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Lindsey!

  4. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops)
    September 27, 2010 at 2:43 am (8 years ago)

    Your baklava looks great, it definitely is a very delicate dessert but looks as though you came through with flying colors – Good luck in round 2

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2010 at 7:14 am (8 years ago)

      Thank you Sharlene! And thanks for tweeting my link. I’m going to go check out your entry now – good luck!

  5. Amy (Sing For Your Supper)
    September 27, 2010 at 7:23 am (8 years ago)

    Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh!!! I LOVE Baklava!!! SO much! Totally just voted for you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Amy!!

  6. Suchitra
    September 27, 2010 at 8:08 am (8 years ago)

    love the recipe!

    Reply
  7. Big Boys Oven
    September 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm (8 years ago)

    defitely this recipe will be a hit, I love having the presents of walnuts! delicious

    Reply
  8. @lickmyspoon
    September 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm (8 years ago)

    The first time I made baklava was during my second year in college. A kitchenless friend came over to make some with me and we left a huge mess in my kitchen. My roommates were furious.

    Your baklava looks perfect. Dense, syrupy layers on bottom and a few flaky layers on top. Despite the growing resentment over the appetite you’ve given me, I’m still voting for you. Can’t wait to see what’s up next!

    Lick My Spoon

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks for your support despite your resentment! I figure if I’m making you hungry, I’m doing a good job 🙂

  9. Amanda (The Culinary Passport)
    September 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm (8 years ago)

    I have always wanted to try making baklava, but thought it would be too hard. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm (8 years ago)

      You’re welcome! Go try it – it’s actually not too tough!

  10. C&C Cakery
    September 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm (8 years ago)

    This is seriously one of my favourite desserts. Your’s look absolutely wonderful – I tend to stick whole cloves into mine, which always leads to us getting them stuck in our teeth. I’m totally going to add the ground cloves next time.

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 27, 2010 at 9:07 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks – hope that helps!

  11. Robbyn
    September 27, 2010 at 9:16 pm (8 years ago)

    You have my vote. I love your recipe. 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Robbyn! Going to go read your entry now!

  12. Gina Ruiz
    September 27, 2010 at 10:35 pm (8 years ago)

    Your baklava looks delish. I voted. Best of luck to you in the competition.

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2010 at 7:13 am (8 years ago)

      Thanks Gina! Good luck to you too – I’m reading your entry right now!

  13. Jan/Thella
    September 28, 2010 at 2:28 am (8 years ago)

    that is a lovely dessert 🙂 all the best of luck with PFB and here’s hoping we all get to the next round! cheers 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2010 at 7:12 am (8 years ago)

      Thank you! Good luck to you too – I’ll go check out your entry now!

    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Jane! Good luck, I just voted for you!

  14. Sara
    September 28, 2010 at 9:38 am (8 years ago)

    The best looking bak I’ve seen hear yet. The one that I am voting for. Good luck 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Sara!

  15. Dan Clapson
    September 28, 2010 at 4:48 pm (8 years ago)

    mmmm…..baklava! Currently making my mouth water! That results in a vote for you!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm (8 years ago)

      Great! Thanks Dan!

  16. Magic of Spice
    September 30, 2010 at 11:46 am (8 years ago)

    One of my favorite desserts…Nice job 🙂 Good luck and looking forward to your challenge #3 entry 🙂

    Reply
  17. Elmira Engelmann
    July 23, 2012 at 9:07 am (7 years ago)

    What i want about greek foods is that they are very tasty and spicy. My grandmother is greek and she always cook for us with some really tasty dish. *”`’`

    Hope This Helps!
    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com“>

    Reply

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