Baklava has a Middle Eastern origin but it has been incorporated into Greek cuisine to such a degree that many people nowadays believe it’s actually a Greek dessert. That’s fair enough because in Greece we love every dessert made with phyllo pastry and syrup no matter what the filling might be. These desserts are categorized as ‘’siropiastá’’ (σιροπιαστά) which means ‘’syrup soaked’’ desserts.
Of course, every home cook has his or her own version of baklava: with walnuts and almonds or pistachios, with or without spices, and finally with either butter or olive oil. I have to admit that butter gives a wonderful taste to baklava but my grandmother disagreed. She preferred making her baklava with olive oil during the Lenten season before Easter. She believed it was the tastiest vegan dessert and, in any case, she wanted to use up the remaining walnuts from the previous year’s crop before hot weather would turn them tangy.
Olive oil doesn’t affect baklava’s taste because the flavor of spices overpowers the olive oil; the added plus is that olive oil makes the phyllo sheets nice and crispy.
If you want to make the butter version, just use the same amount of butter, instead of olive oil. (For a really buttery flavor, drizzle the baklava with another 100gr of melted butter just before baking.)
Makes 24 pieces ( I used a 23x33cm baking pan)
500gr pastry phyllo dough, thawed (1 package)
300gr ground walnuts
100gr ground almonds, skin on
200gr olive oil
1½tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp ground cloves
For the syrup:
600gr granulated sugar
1Tbsp lemon juice
1Tbsp glucose syrup (optional)
In a bowl, stir together the walnuts, almonds, cinnamon and cloves.
Lay the phyllo dough out on a clean dry working surface and cover with a damp cloth. (Phyllo dries out very easily and then becomes fragile) One package usually has 12 sheets of phyllo dough. Depending on the thinness there may be 14 sheets; you will use 5 sheets at the bottom of the pan, 2 in the middle, and the 5 or 7 left, for the top layers.
In the greased pan, lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another phyllo on top and brush it with olive oil. Repeat layering and oiling with 3 more phyllo sheets.
Gently spread half of the walnut mixture in an even layer on top of the phyllo sheets in the baking pan. Place a phyllo sheet over the walnut mixture and brush with olive oil. Repeat layering and oiling with one more phyllo. Spread the remaining half of the walnut mixture in an even layer on top of the phyllo sheets in the baking pan. Layer over the walnut mixture and oil the remaining 5 (or 7) phyllo sheets. Place baklava in the fridge for 30min to rest and set.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 170 C.
Cut the baklava into 24 pieces and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until lightly golden. Meanwhile make the syrup; stir together water, sugar, glucose syrup and lemon juice in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3min.
Pour the hot syrup carefully over the hot baked baklava. Let stand for 2-3 hours before serving. Baklava can be stored at room temperature for more than a week.