Nothing held my mom back in the kitchen and this Classic Greek Baklava was one of the most delicious, memorable treats she made for our family! Layered with filo, nuts and an orange flower water flavored syrup, it’s unforgettable!
If you’ve never baked with filo, fillo or phyllo dough, scroll down and read my tips for working with these extremely thin pastry sheets.
My Mom’s Classic Greek Baklava
I was blessed to spend most of my childhood in a small, Midwest university town. Basically, Ames, Iowa, was in the middle of nowhere, but the college brought many benefits. We’d attend the symphony, theater and football games. So what if all the key players were university students! My parents became friends with folks from all over the world and with that, we were exposed to new cuisines.
After chatting with my Greek friend, Eleni, I learned that baklavas can vary depending on the family and area it is made. Many have honey, cloves, cinnamon and bread crumbs. My mother’s classic Greek Baklava is lacking all of those ingredients, but she did reassure me that sugar syrup and orange blossom water were also traditional. I will try adding her suggestions of breadcrumbs and cinnamon to my next filling.
Thanks to an international grocery store on campus, we had access to filo dough, quite exotic for Iowa in the 1970’s! I remember painting melted butter over the thin, fragile pastry sheets with my mom at my side. No other baklava tastes as wonderful as this version made with love by my mother.
Once you get the hang of working with filo (or fillo or phyllo), you’ll be adding traditional Greek dishes like spanakopita, tiropita to your menu! I’ve also had my eye on these No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Phyllo Bites as well as this Spinach Feta Quiche with Flakey Phyllo Crust.
Tips for Working with Filo or Phyllo Dough
Filo or phyllo dough is a paper thin pastry that is used in Mediterranean cuisine. Due to it’s thin nature, filo dries out quickly and becomes extremely fragile when exposed to air. Therefore, extra care is needed when you’re using filo in your baking.
- Filo dough is usually found in your grocer’s freezer case. Follow the instructions on the box for defrosting. A slow overnight defrosting in the refrigerator is usually the best option.
- Do not remove the filo from the plastic wrapping until all your other ingredients are prepped and ready to go.
- PRO-Tip: When you’re ready to start layering, remove the filo from its packaging, unroll and place it on a clean work surface. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
- Work quickly, uncovering the filo just to remove a sheet. Make sure to cover again as soon as possible.
- Brush your pastry with oil or melted butter as directed in your recipe. Since the exterior edges are more likely to dry out first, brush around the perimeter first. Using a soft pastry brush will minimize any tearing.
- Don’t worry too much if you have sheets tear. I use these in the middle of my baklava. No one will be the wiser as there most likely are intact layers above and below.
- Wrap any leftovers well and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
You May Need:
More Nutty Recipes You’ll Love:
- Cardamom Pistachio Baklava from Foodie with Family
- Millionaire Brownies from What a Girl Eats
- Pecan Tassies from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Double Chocolate Nutella Toffee Skillet Brownie from Country Cleaver
Gretchen’s Classic Greek Baklava
A traditional Greek dessert that you can now make at home!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 24 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Greek
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 pound filo dough
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 6–8 ounces chopped walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Make syrup by dissolving sugar in water and simmer till thick enough to coat a spoon, then add lemon and orange blossom water and simmer 2 more minutes. Cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.
- Brush a 9 x 13 pan with butter. Place half of filo in the pan, one sheet at a time, brushing each layer with butter. Keep the filo covered with a damp towel while brushing the layers to prevent it from drying out. Don’t worry if it tears, though, it will still look and taste fine. Mix nuts and sugar and spread over the filo layers. Cover with remaining filo, brushing each layer with butter as before.
- Cut diagonally into lozenge shapes. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes, then increase temperature to 450º for 15 minutes or less till puffed and golden.
- Remove from oven and quickly pour cold syrup over baklava. Cool.