What Is Baklava
Baklava is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert and is a perennial favorite amongst the people of this region. It consists of a rich, soft cinnamon-nut filling spread between layers of crisp, flaky phyllo dough. A sugary sweet syrup is poured over the perfectly baked pieces and it is kept to stand for a bit. The sugar syrup seeps through the layers, resulting in a decadent desert that is absolutely to die for!
With a rich dessert such as this it’s not surprising that at one time, baklava was considered a dessert meant only for the wealthy few. Today, everybody has easy, affordable access to this royal dessert. You don’t have to be a millionaire to be able to afford baklava. It can be easily found in any Greek or Middle East specialty store around the world and in several online specialty stores at affordable prices.
Baklava Through The Ages
It’s not absolutely clear yet but research strongly points towards it being of Assyrian origin that started sometime around the 8th century B.C. When it was first created, it was baked only for the rich who could afford such extravagance. ‘Ordinary’ people could not afford to indulge.
As the history of the land got transformed, Baklava got introduced to many other cultures and countries and not surprisingly, very soon it was a world-wide sensation.
Making Baklava: A Behind-The-Scenes Sneak Peak
Baklava lovers cannot help but be intrigued by how their favorite dessert is made. Let’s go behind the scenes for a quick look.
Phyllo is the core ingredient of baklava. This is a very fine pastry dough that comes in sheets. The trickiest part of making baklava is handling the phyllo dough because it dries out and starts flaking easily.
The phyllo dough sheets are placed in a thick baking dish with melted butter between each sheet. After half the number of sheets have been used, a thick layer of chopped nuts, usually pistachios, is spread over the topmost layer and then the remaining phyllo dough sheets are placed on top again, with melted butter between each sheet.
The assembled dish is baked in the oven till it becomes a rich golden brown. This takes approximately 20 minutes at 350 F. When the baklava is cooled down, it is cut into diamonds and a rich syrup made of sugar, honey, orange water and lemon juice is poured over the pieces and allowed to soak in. The result is that rich, sweet moist dessert that takes pride of place at any Middle Eastern dessert table.