Nana’s Baklava

Most people think of baklava as strictly a Greek dessert. It is also a big part of my beloved Lebanese cuisine that I grew up on though! In Arabic it is actually spelled baklawa. This recipe for baklava is family tradition at its best. Nana Jeanie made this treat often and taught my mother. She in turn taught me! This is her incredible recipe to the letter and I love it so much.

The filling for the baklava was simple and amazing! I love that it's not super sweet.
I made the simple walnut filling for the baklava first. My food processor did the work of grinding the walnuts pretty finely while still keeping some texture. Those ground walnuts, sugar and cinnamon were so incredible together. I loved that it was not an overly sweet filling.
Layers of flaky dough with lots of butter. Hmmm, I wonder why baklava is so good??
Once I made the filling, it was time to assemble the baklava. Phyllo dough can be tricky to work with and it dries out easily. So I tried to work quickly on the bottom layer by brushing each sheet with lots of butter after I put it in the pan. Layers of flaky dough with lots of butter. Hmmm, I wonder why baklava is so good??
The baklava was ready for the oven! I love the pretty diamond pattern.
After I finished the bottom layer, I spread the walnut filling on evenly. Then I repeated the process with the remaining phyllo dough before I cut the whole tray into diamonds. I achieved that by cutting even diagonal lines going from each side. I absolutely loved the pretty diamond pattern. Then it was ready for the oven!
I loved how easy the syrup was to make! I boiled sugar, water and sliced lemon together for 15 minutes. Then I just removed the lemon slices and added the honey.
While the baklava baked, I made the all important syrup to finish it. It was really simple to make. I boiled sugar, water and sliced lemon together for 15 minutes. Then I just removed the lemon slices and added the honey.
The baklava was all done with that glorious, stick syrup all over it!
The syrup needed to cool for a few minutes so that it wouldn’t wilt the baklava. Then I took the pan out and poured the syrup right over the hot pastry. It just melted right in. The baklava looked glorious with that shiny, sticky syrup all over it!

Once it cooled a bit it was time to serve. Oh my goodness, it was just how my mom and nana made it. So many memories flooded back when I tasted it. The baklava was decadent without being cloyingly sweet. Hope you all enjoy this classic as much as my family always has! xoxo

Nana's Baklava
Nana’s Baklava
Nana's Baklava
Nana’s Baklava
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Nana's Baklava
Nana's Baklava
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 1 tray
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
  • 1 pound phyllo dough
  • 1 pound walnuts coarsely ground
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 pound butter melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 whole lemon sliced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. First, make sure that the phyllo dough is wrapped in a wet kitchen towel as it thaws in its plastic covering. This will keep it from drying out. Prepare the walnut filling. I used my food processor to grind the walnuts pretty finely but still keeping some texture. Then stir the ground walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Set it aside. Preheat the oven to 350 and get out a 9 x 13 baking dish. Brush the bottom of the baking dish liberally with a little of the melted butter.
  2. Take half of the thawed phyllo dough, leaving the other half still wrapped in the wet towel. Gently roll it out flat. Layer each sheet of it one by one in the baking dish, brushing lots of the melted butter in between each sheet. If it tears a little, not to worry! Once the first half of phyllo dough is layered in the pan, evenly layer the walnut mixture on top of it. Then repeat the process of layering the phyllo with the second half of the dough to top off the baklava.
  3. With a sharp knife, cut diagonal parallel lines from one side of the pan to the other. Then cut the same lines going the opposite way to cut the baklava into the classic diamond shapes. Get the baking dish into the oven to bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 and let it continue to bake for another 40-45 minutes.
  4. When there is about 20 minutes left of baking time, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar, water and lemon slices in a sauce pan and heat it up over medium high heat. Let it gently boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the 15 minutes is up, remove the lemon slices and stir in the honey. Take the pot off of the heat and let it cool for around 5 minutes. It needs to cool enough so that it doesn't wilt the baklava but it also shouldn't cool so much that it hardens. Stir occasionally while it cools.
  5. Take the baklava out when its done and immediately pour the syrup all over it. It will just melt all over it and make it gloriously sticky. Let it cool enough to handle, then cut out the individual little diamonds and serve! It will also keep sealed up in an airtight container for a couple of days. Enjoy!

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