Secret Baklava Recipe from Scratch with 80+ Layers
Today we’re making my favorite baklava. Baklava is definitely one of the most delicious desserts I have ever tried in my life and the expertise you have to put behind it explains why it’s so good.
- 3 Eggs
- 0.5 cup Olive Oil
- 4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Milk
- 1 pinch Salt
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 3 cups Sugar
- 2 cups Water
- 0.5 Lemon
- 250 gr Pistachios
- 2 cups Corn Starch
- 2 cups Butter
Preparing the dough for Baklava
For the filling we’ll use 250 grams of raw pistachios. In a large bowl, mix together two egg yolks, one whole egg and the milk. Combine them really well until we get a homogeneous consistency. Add the olive oil together with the flour, baking powder and the salt. This time we are going to use our hands to mix it until a play dough consistency is formed. We are going to move the dough on a flat surface and continue to work on it for about 10 minutes to activate the gluten.
This process is very important because it’s gonna help us to open the phyllo sheets. After we are done working with the dough, we are going to put it back in the bowl, cover it up and let it rest for about an hour.
Clarify the Butter
While the dough is resting, let’s combine together the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of flour. We are going to use this mixture to open the phyllo sheets. To crush the pistachios I am going to use the rolling pin. The pistachios should be very fine. Also it is very important to clarify the butter until it gets this golden brownish color. To do so, put the butter on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Preparing the Phyllo Sheets
Right after one hour, let’s take the dough and cut it into three equal pieces. We are going to roll each piece, cut it into four, roll it again and then cut them into fours so that we can make in total 16 pieces. If you think you have too much dough you can also make smaller pieces. I had to make about 20 to 30 small balls of dough each which makes it a total of 80 sheets of phyllo dough. We are going to take each of the doughs and roll them into spheres.
Next, we are going to start rolling each of the small doughs into small circles. Make sure to use lots of starch because that’s what’s going to separate each of the sheets from each other. When our phyllo sheet is ready, we are gonna start rolling the second, the third and on and on until we have a big pile.
Rolling the Phyllo Sheets
Put together 10 to 15 of them and start rolling to your desired size. Every 8 to 10 rolls, make sure you flip the sheets so that it opens up evenly. Once we get to the desired size, we start rolling the next one. And now for the hardest part, we need to separate each of those sheets from each other. To test how thin our phyllo sheets are, they usually use a newspaper but in my scenario, I’m just going to use the bag of pistachios.
Layering the Baklava
Oil up the baking tray and start placing your phyllo sheets. Usually, people spray each of the sheets with butter but we’re not going to do that for the bottom layer. Separating the sheets is going to be hard. On my YouTube video, you can see I failed so many. And here I try again and I still fail but don’t worry though because not every sheet has to be perfect. The reason why we separate each of the layers is for the air to be stuck in between them so that each of the sheets cooks evenly and becomes crispy.
When we are about halfway through, we are going to add 2/3 of the pistachios. Then, we are going to add more layers but this time we are going to add butter on the fourth or fifth sheet. Right after about 10 layers, let’s add our leftover pistachios.
Cutting the Baklava
As soon as we have added all the layers, we are going to cut out the imperfections and then cut the baklava. Cutting before cooking is very important because it’s going to absorb all the butter that we are going to add later.
I am going to cut into 8 pieces first, just like a pizza and then cut each of those pieces into smaller triangles. I know it sounds confusing but trust me it’s very easy once you get the hang of it. When we are done cutting the baklava, make sure to add the butter that we melted earlier. Do not forget to tilt the pan sideways so that the butter is distributed evenly.
Baking the Baklava
We are going to bake the baklava 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour and then lower the temperature to 260 degrees Fahrenheit and bake it for another two to three hours, depending on how big your baking pan is. This long baking process will make sure that each of the phyllo sheets are cooked perfectly. 15 minutes before the baklava is done, we are going to start preparing the syrup. Different from the traditional recipe, I am going to caramelize the sugar a little bit to elevate the flavor.
To caramelize the sugar, add all the sugar and just half a cup of water. Put it on high heat and continuously stir until the sugar becomes brownish. As soon as the sugar is caramelized, make sure to add the rest of the water but be really careful because it’s going to start boiling right away. We are going to let it boil for five more minutes and then add half a lemon. The lemon is going to stop the sugar from crystallizing. And this is how baklava should look right after it’s baked.
The secret to the best Baklava
The secret to getting the crispiest baklava is to pour the hot syrup as soon as the baklava is done baking. On the contrary, if you’d like it softer, you can let it rest first and then pour in the hot syrup. When we pour in the syrup, we will let the baklava rest overnight so that it absorbs all of it and then it will be ready for consumption.