About this recipe:This traditional Greek baklava has layers of tender filo pastry with a walnut filling and is coated in a spiced syrup. This delicious recipe was passed from my Yia Yia to her daughter-in-law (my mother) to me. I've added a few extra tips at the end!
400g caster sugar
4 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, juiced, divided
450g finely chopped walnuts
200g caster sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
170g unsalted butter, melted, or more as needed
20 sheets filo pastry
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Stir together water, 400g caster sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick and 1/2 the lemon juice together in a saucepan. Bring to the boil; reduce heat to low and simmer until flavour blends and syrup consistency is reached, about 15 minutes. Stir remaining 1/2 of the lemon juice into syrup. Strain and refrigerate until cool, at least 30 minutes.
For the filing:
Stir walnuts, 200g caster sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl.
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Brush butter on the bottom and sides of a 23x33cm glass baking dish.
Lay the filo pastry out on a clean, dry surface and cover it with clingfilm. Cover the clingfilm with a damp tea towel.
Lay 1 sheet of filo pastry in prepared baking dish and lightly brush with butter. Lay another sheet of filo pastry on top, brush with butter. Repeat layering and brushing with butter with 4 more sheets of filo.
Gently spread 1/3 of the walnut mixture in an even layer over the filo pastry in the baking dish. Place a sheet of filo pastry over the walnut mixture and brush it with butter. Repeat layering and buttering with 3 more sheets of filo.
Spread another 1/3 the walnut mixture in an even layer over the filo pastry in the baking dish. Place a sheet of filo over the walnut mixture and brush it with butter. Repeat layering and buttering with 3 more sheets of filo.
Spread the remaining 1/3 walnut mixture in an even layer over the filo pastry in the baking dish. Place a sheet of filo over the walnut mixture and brush it with butter. Repeat layering and buttering with the remaining 5 sheets of filo. Cut baklava into 2.5cm diamonds.
Bake in the preheated oven until lightly golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.
Pour cooled syrup over baked baklava and cool for 1 day to absorb syrup.
Cutting the baklava is best done with a large butchers knife and a gentle hand to hold down the top filo pastry layers while cutting. To cut in diamonds, make 4 even cuts down the length of the pan, and then make cuts diagonally beginning at the corner.
Filo dough dries out quickly and becomes difficult to work with, so it is best to work quickly.
Use a glass baking dish:
Using a glass baking dish is best, because it allows the cook to see if the bottom of the baklava is getting golden brown. Be sure to store it uncovered, so that it will stay moist.