Greek-Cypriot Baklava

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Greek-Cypriot Baklava

Baklava is very much a show-stopper of a dessert. It has been eaten at dinner tables for many centuries.

Originating from Turkey during the Ottoman era, baklava has become a beloved dessert in the Mediterranean, Balkans, and Middle Eastern cuisines through the centuries.

It is a rich, sweet, and multi-textured dessert. It is very decadent, and the dish itself has a fascinating history.

Our recipe is heavily influenced by the Greek and Cypriot cuisines, and it is an ideal dessert to serve for parties and gatherings.

What is Baklava?

Baklava is made of delicious layers of buttered phyllo (filo) dough filled with chopped nuts and soaked in a honey-sugar syrup.

You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to make, and the prep time takes less than 30 minutes.

The most time-consuming part is waiting for this rich and delicately sweet dessert to soak up the syrup, ideally overnight.

So, prepare this dessert the day before you want to serve it or in the morning if you’re planning to serve it for a dinner party.

Greek-Cypriot Baklava Step-by-Step

1. First, get all the ingredients:

  • Butter (250g or 2 sticks of butter & 2 tablespoons)
  • Cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
  • Sugar (250g or 1 and 1/4 cup)
  • Phyllo (filo) dough (450g or 16 oz)
  • Honey (125ml or 1/2 cup)
  • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • Water (250ml or 1 cup)
  • Nuts (pistachios, or a mix of pistachios and walnuts, 450g or 16 oz)
Greek-Cypriot Baklava ingredients

2. Make the honey-sugar syrup

Now, it’s time to make the syrup for the baklava so it has plenty of time to cool down.

Start by dissolving the sugar in boiling water and add vanilla and honey. Stir it until it’s all mixed well. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Pour the resulting syrup into a bowl and set it aside at room temperature initially for it to cool down. Once the syrup has cooled down enough, put it in the refrigerator.

Greek-Cypriot Baklava syrup

3. Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F.

4. Finely chop the nuts

While the oven is preheating, we’ll be making the nut mixture and assembling the baklava.

First, we must finely chop the nuts. This is ideally done with a food processor. While you can just chop them with a knife, it’s a lot more time-consuming.

So add the nuts and cinnamon to the food processor and pulse a few times until the nuts are finely chopped. Leave this aromatic mixture aside.

5. Melt the butter

Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave, and prepare to assemble the baklava.

Melted butter for the baklava layers

6. Assemble the Baklava layers

The assembly of the baklava is quick & easy if you have all the ingredients ready to go.

Before you start, know that the phyllo dough dries out very quickly in contact with the air. So, you might want to keep the phyllo sheets covered with a towel (dry or damp).

We’ll be assembling the baklava in this order:

1/4 of the phyllo sheets + 1/3 of the nut mixture + 1/4 of the phyllo sheets + 1/3 of the nut mixture + 1/4 of the phyllo sheets + 1/3 of the nut mixture + 1/4 of the phyllo sheets

First, brush the baking pan with melted butter.

Unrolling the phyllo dough, place 1/4 of the phyllo dough layer-by-layer in the baking pan and butter each layer as you go.

The baking pan I used is exactly 1/2 the size of each phyllo dough sheet, so each phyllo dough sheet was actually 2 layers in this case.

baklava assembly step-by-step

After you’ve used 1/4 of the phyllo dough, sprinkle 1/3 of the nut-cinnamon mixture on top.

baklava assembly step-by-step: adding nuts

Keep going in the order discussed above until you’ve used all the phyllo dough and the nut mixture. Brush the top with melted butter.

baklava assembly step-by-step: final assembled baklava

Before placing the Baklava in the oven, cut it into squares or diamonds. It’s important to cut it before baking the baklava, as it will be virtually impossible to do it after.

baklava assembly step-by-step: cut into diamond-shaped pieces

Bake the baklava for about 45min until golden. Note that baking times will vary depending on your oven, type of pan, and even brand of phyllo dough.

You may want to set a timer for 30 minutes, and then check every 5 minutes or so on the baklava. If it looks golden and you insert a skewer in the center and it comes out clean, the baklava is ready to be taken out of the oven.

Baked baklava fresh out of the oven

After removing the Baklava from the oven, pour the cold syrup over it right away. It’s what will hold the baklava together. And it’s also what keeps it crispy rather than soggy.

Adding syrup to the baked baklava

Now, you just need patience while the baklava absorbs the syrup. Ideally, you should leave it overnight. But it should rest for at least a couple of hours.

Before you serve it, use the knife to cut again along the pre-cut lines, for clean and smooth lines.

baklava topped with chopped pistachios

You can now garnish with finely chopped nuts or other toppings.

Baklava flat-lay photo

As you can see, both the colors and the layers of each baklava piece are simply beautiful.

Baklava side photo showing the layers

Close up, you can see the delicious layers of pastry and crushed nuts, held together by the butter and syrup.

Baklava up-close

Baklava will steal the show if you lay it out at a feast or on a table with other foods. Its diamond-shaped pieces and golden color are too alluring to ignore.

Serving baklava

If you wanted to draw attention to the individual pieces or make them easier to pick up, you could serve them on a board or platter.

serving baklava on a board

Here, you can truly appreciate the various textures, layers, and colors, that all make Greek and Cypriot baklava such a beloved dessert.

Baklava on a plate

I truly hope you, your family, and friends enjoy this rich, decadent, and delicious dessert.

Greek-Cypriot Baklava Recipe

Greek Cypriot Baklava

Greek Cypriot Baklava

Ingredients

  • Butter (250g or 2 sticks of butter & 2 tablespoons)
  • Cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
  • Sugar (250g or 1 and 1/4 cup)
  • Phyllo (filo) dough (450g or 16 oz)
  • Honey (125ml or 1/2 cup)
  • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • Nuts (pistachios or a mix of pistachios and walnuts, 450g or 16 oz)
  • Water (250ml or 1 cup)

Instructions

Make the honey-sugar syrup.

Start by dissolving the sugar in boiling water and add vanilla and honey. Stir it until it's mixed well. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool down. Once the syrup has cooled down enough, put it in the refrigerator.

Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F.

Make the nut-cinnamon mixture.

While the oven is preheating, add the nuts and cinnamon to the food processor and pulse a few times until the nuts are finely chopped.

Melt the butter.

Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave, and prepare to assemble the baklava.

Assemble the baklava.

Brush the baking pan with melted butter.

Unrolling the phyllo dough, place 1/4 of the phyllo dough layer-by-layer in the baking pan and butter each layer as you go.

After you've used 1/4 of the phyllo dough, sprinkle 1/3 of the nut-cinnamon mixture on top.

Repeat until you've used all the phyllo dough and nut-cinnamon mixture. See note 2 for details.

Brush the top with melted butter.

Cut the baklava into squares or diamond shapes.

Bake the baklava.

Bake the baklava for about 45 min or until golden.

Pour the syrup.

After removing the Baklava from the oven, pour the cold syrup over it right away. Let it rest for at least a couple of hours but ideally overnight.

Decorate & serve the baklava.

Before you serve it, use the knife to cut again along the pre-cut lines, for clean and smooth lines.

Top it with some finely chopped pistachio or other desired toppings.

Notes

1. Phyllo dough dries out very quickly in contact with the air. So, you have to either work very quickly or keep the phyllo sheets covered with a damp towel.

2. The assembly of the baklava in this recipe was in this order:

  • 1/4 of the phyllo sheets +
  • 1/3 of the nut mixture +
  • 1/4 of the phyllo sheets +
  • 1/3 of the nut mixture +
  • 1/4 of the phyllo sheets +
  • 1/3 of the nut mixture +
  • 1/4 of the phyllo sheets


3. Note that baking times will vary depending on your oven, type of pan, and even brand of phyllo dough. You may want to set a timer for 30 minutes, and then check every 5 minutes or so on the baklava. If it looks golden and you insert a skewer in the center and it comes out clean, the baklava is ready to be taken out of the oven.

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Author: Doina Johnson is a content writer and creator, who has traveled to over 30 countries. She is passionate about trying new foods and loves to make foods she has tried on her travels in her home kitchen.

Contributor: Anastasiya Tikhonova is a writer and translator who has lived in Cyprus for several years. Anastasiya writes about all things Cypriot culture, and she is fluent in three languages.

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