East Meets West at the Holiday Table

In my recipe box I came across this old page ripped out of a McCall’s magazine from the 80’s. Then I found the frozen filo pastry at the supermarket Natura Sì…. mmm…maybe it’s a sign…make some Baklava! I was also in the mood for a different type of dessert after having interviewed a cook from North Africa for Aglio Olio Pili Pili’s upcoming book. We discussed the tastes and smells of North African spices, and herbs and desserts with honey, almonds and rose water. But this sticky, sweet pastry is loved all over the mediterranean, from Greece to Lebanon to Morocco.

foto aopp bakla 1

First ingredient, walnuts…aopp bakla 2

Then add almonds…

bakla 2

Then grind the two nuts until they are the size of small pebbles…bakla 3

Mix the nuts with the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Melt the butter and prepare the filo pastry under a damp cloth….

bakla 4

Lay the sheets of filo pastry in a buttered pan…

bakla 5

Then  brush butter on each of the 15 sheets of filo pastry, placing one over the other…

baklav 7

On the 15th layer add the sugar, spice, nut mix in a thick layer…then continue with the next 5 layers of buttered filo pastry and repeat with a layer of sugar, spice, nut mix and finish with the last 5 layers of filo pastry with each individually buttered…


When the last layer has been added, butter it and then cut the diamond shapes into the pastry. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom. Then bake in the oven for 60 minutes and when done turn off oven and let cool for 30 minutes in warm oven…..

bakla 9

While the baklava is cooking, start with the syrup. Slice the lemons and oranges and add to pot with cinnamon sticks, honey and water. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then let cool and strain…


When the baklava is done it will be a wonderful golden brown. Over the same cut lines cut the baklava all the way to the bottom….


Then pour the warm syrup over the warm baklava and let cool for a few hours while the pastry absorbs the syrup…


Serve the baklava at  room temperature or cold, maybe with a nice cup of mint tea. This year I made this for our Easter feast with the baklava next to our Colomba di Pasqua…


Thank you McCall’s magazine for this ‘old school’ classic!

image recipe of bakla


see recipe


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