[UPDATE] What is Baklava? What does Baklava Taste Like? FAQ

by Aniloka

1. What is baklava?

Baklava is a sweet and rich pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts, honey or syrup, and spices. It has a unique and delicious taste with a combination of crispy and flaky textures from the phyllo dough and a nutty and sweet flavor from the filling. The syrup or honey drizzled over the pastry adds a sticky sweetness that complements the crunchiness of the nuts, making it a delightful and indulgent dessert. Baklava is a popular dessert originating in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.

Image by stockking on Freepik

2. How To Make Baklava?

To make baklava, thin sheets of phyllo dough are brushed with butter or oil, then layered on top of one another. Between each layer, a mixture of finely chopped nuts, such as pistachios, walnuts, or almonds, is added. The nuts are often mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and other spices to add flavor.

After the phyllo and nut mixture layers are stacked up, the baklava is baked until golden brown and crispy. Once done, a syrup or honey mixture is poured over the top, seeping into the layers of phyllo and nut mixture, making the dessert moist and sweet.

The final result is a rich and decadent dessert that’s both crunchy and chewy, with layers of crispy phyllo pastry and a sweet, nutty filling. It’s often served in small pieces, as it’s pretty rich, and is a popular treat for holidays and special occasions.

Image by Hasan Çilingir from Pixabay

3. What is in baklava? What is baklava made of?

Baklava is a pastry made of paper-thin phyllo dough filled with a sweet and nutty mixture. Here’s a more detailed explanation of what’s in baklava (baklava ingredients):

  • Phyllo dough: This is the main component of baklava. Phyllo dough is a delicate pastry made from unleavened dough stretched and rolled very thinly. The phyllo dough is layered with butter or oil to give it a crispy and flaky texture.
  • Nuts: Baklava typically contains a mixture of chopped nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or pistachios. The nuts are usually lightly sweetened and spiced with cinnamon or other spices. They are layered between the sheets of phyllo dough.
  • Sugar: Sugar is added to the nut mixture to sweeten it and give it a sticky consistency. The amount of sugar used varies depending on the recipe and personal preference.
  • Butter or oil: Baklava layers are brushed with melted butter or oil, which helps to crisp up the pastry and give it a rich, buttery flavor.
  • Syrup: After baking, baklava is typically soaked in a sweet syrup made from sugar, honey, water, and sometimes lemon juice. This adds an extra layer of sweetness and makes the pastry moist and syrupy.
  • Spices: Cinnamon is the most common spice used in baklava, but other spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves can also flavor the nut mixture.

4. What does baklava taste like

A. Taste

Baklava has a rich and sweet taste with a nutty flavor from the ground nuts used in the filling. The flaky layers of buttery phyllo dough, which shatter on contact, give way to a satisfying crunch from the filling of finely chopped nuts. The nut filling is typically a combination of almonds, walnuts, or pistachios, contributing to the pastry’s signature nutty flavor.

As you take a bite, the sweet syrup or honey, which has been generously drizzled over each layer of pastry, floods your palate with a sticky sweetness. The honey has a distinct floral taste that complements the richness of the nuts, making for a harmonious flavor profile. The syrup also adds a hint of moisture to the pastry, keeping it from being too dry and creating a soft, almost fudgy consistency.

In some baklava recipes, a dash of cinnamon or cardamom is added to the syrup, which imparts a subtle, warm spiciness that balances the sweetness. This adds an extra layer of complexity to the flavor of the pastry, making it even more enjoyable.

Turkish Baklava
Turkish Baklava with Pistachio | Image by stockking on Freepik

B. Texture

Baklava has a unique combination of textures. The layers of phyllo dough are crispy and flaky, while the filling of ground nuts is crunchy and slightly chewy. 

The pastry comprises multiple layers of paper-thin phyllo dough, which are meticulously layered on top of one another and brushed with melted butter. As the pastry bakes in the oven, the layers of dough turn golden brown and become crisp and flaky.

As you take a bite of baklava, you can hear the layers of pastry shattering and crumbling, releasing a shower of buttery crumbs. The pastry has a delicate, fragile texture that contrasts with the filling of ground nuts.

The nut filling is made up of finely chopped almonds, walnuts, or pistachios, which provide a satisfying crunch that contrasts with the flaky pastry. In addition, the nuts are slightly chewy, giving the pastry a pleasing mouthfeel.

The whole dessert is held together by a generous drizzle of syrup or honey, which seeps into every layer of pastry and fills every crevice. The syrup adds a sticky texture to the pastry, which glues the layers together, creating a smooth and moist texture that contrasts with the crunch of the nuts. The syrup also adds a subtle sweetness to the dessert, making it even more enjoyable.

C. Aroma

Baklava with Cinnamon | Image by djpresc16 from Pixabay

When you take a bite of baklava, you’re hit with a sweet and nutty aroma. The scent of the ground nuts in the filling permeates the air, giving off an inviting aroma that promises a delicious and satisfying dessert.

In addition to the nutty aroma, there’s also a hint of spice or citrus, depending on the recipe used to make the baklava. Some recipes call for adding cinnamon or cloves, giving the dessert a warm, spicy aroma that’s comforting and enticing. Other recipes call for using citrus zest, which gives the dessert a fresh, zesty aroma that’s invigorating and refreshing.

As you take in the aroma of baklava, you’ll also notice a subtle, floral scent that comes from the honey or syrup used in the pastry. This floral aroma is sweet and inviting and helps balance out the nutty and spicy scents of the dessert.

Overall, the aroma of baklava is a complex and alluring blend of sweet and nutty scents, with hints of spice or citrus and a subtle floral undertone. The smell draws you in and entices you to indulge in this delectable dessert.

D. Color 

Baklava is typically golden brown in color, with the layers of phyllo dough becoming crispy and flaky when baked. The filling of ground nuts is usually a darker brown color, contrasting the pastry’s light and airy layers.

As you bite into the pastry, you’ll notice that the layers are crisp and flaky, with a satisfying crunch that contrasts with the soft, chewy filling of ground nuts. In addition, the color of the pastry is uniform, with each layer of phyllo dough baking to a golden-brown hue that’s both appetizing and eye-catching.

In contrast to the pastry’s light color, ground nuts’ filling is a darker brown color, providing a beautiful contrast to the pastry’s golden exterior. The nuts used in the filling, such as walnuts or pistachios, are ground to a fine consistency that creates a dense, chewy texture. This darker hue of the filling adds depth and complexity to the dessert’s appearance, making it an even more appealing treat.

E. Presentation

When it comes to presentation, baklava is a work of art. The pastry is often arranged on a large platter or tray, with each piece carefully cut and arranged in a neat and orderly fashion. The diamond or rectangular shapes give the pastry an elegant and refined appearance, while the layers of crispy phyllo dough and crunchy nuts add depth and texture to the presentation.

To further enhance its visual appeal, some bakers may add decorative garnishes to the pastry. Chopped nuts, sprinkles of powdered sugar, and dashes of cinnamon are common choices, as they add a pop of color and flavor to the pastry. The powdered sugar, in particular, gives the pastry a snowy, festive appearance, making it a popular treat during holidays and special occasions.

Baklava Pistachio | Photo by Ömer Haktan Bulut on Unsplash

5. Where is baklava from

Baklava is a sweet pastry with a long and fascinating history, with various countries and cultures claiming its origin. 

Some sources suggest that baklava originated in the ancient Middle East, with Assyrian and Persian empires as early adopters of the dessert. From there, it likely spread throughout the region, including Turkey, Greece, and Armenia, where it has been enjoyed for centuries.

Turkey, in particular, is often credited with inventing the baklava that we know today, as they developed their own unique version of the pastry that uses pistachios instead of other nuts. However, many countries in the region, such as Greece and Lebanon, also have distinct baklava recipes.

Despite the ongoing debate about its origins, one thing is for sure: baklava is a beloved and treasured dessert throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. Its delicious combination of crispy phyllo dough, sweet syrup, and nutty filling make it a popular choice for special occasions, celebrations, and everyday indulgence.

6. Greek Baklava vs. Turkish Baklava vs. Lebanese Baklava

Greek Baklava, Turkish Baklava, and Lebanese Baklava are all variations of this famous pastry, each with unique characteristics and flavors.

A. Greek Baklava

Greek baklava is typically made with a filling of chopped walnuts or almonds. It is often spiced with cinnamon or cloves. It’s also known for its use of honey syrup, which is made by boiling honey and water together and then drizzling it over the pastry after it’s baked. Greek baklava usually has a lighter, flakier texture than other varieties and is cut into diamond shapes.

Greek Baklava
Greek Baklava | Image by martin miranda from Pixabay

B. Turkish Baklava

Turkish baklava is known for its use of pistachios, which are ground into a fine powder and mixed with sugar and spices to create a filling that’s both sweet and savory. The pastry is often layered with butter between each sheet of phyllo dough and then baked until golden and crispy. After baking, a simple syrup made from sugar and water is poured over the pastry, which is then cut into small rectangles.

Turkish Baklava
Turkish Baklava with Pistachio | Image by stockking on Freepik

C. Lebanese Baklava

Lebanese baklava is similar to Greek baklava in its filling, typically made with chopped pistachios or walnuts. However, it’s distinguished by its use of orange blossom water in the syrup, which gives it a unique flavor and aroma. Lebanese baklava is also often cut into diamond shapes and is sometimes served with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Baklava with Walnuts | Image by Baklava7_de from Pixabay

7. Is baklava vegan

Baklava is usually not vegan, as it typically contains butter, ghee, and sometimes honey. However, there are vegan versions of baklava that use vegetable oil, vegan margarine instead of butter or ghee, and sweet syrup made from sugar or agave nectar instead of honey. These vegan alternatives can be just as delicious as traditional baklava and are an excellent option for those following a vegan diet.

8. How to store baklava

Baklava is best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Here are some tips for keeping baklava:

  • Let it cool: Allow the baklava to cool completely before storing it. If it’s still warm when you store it, it can create condensation inside the container and make the pastry soggy.
  • Use an airtight container: Baklava is best stored in an airtight container, such as a plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. This will help to keep it fresh and prevent it from drying out.
  • Avoid refrigeration: Baklava should not be stored in the refrigerator, as the moisture can cause the pastry to become soggy.
  • Please keep away from moisture: To keep the baklava fresh and crispy, store it in a dry place away from moisture, such as a cool pantry or cupboard.
  • Freeze for long-term storage: If you want to store baklava for an extended period, you can freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 2-3 months. Thaw it at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

9. How long does baklava last

The shelf life of baklava depends on how it’s stored. Here are some general guidelines:

  • At room temperature: If stored in an airtight container at room temperature, baklava will last for 3-4 days. After this time, it may start to dry out or become stale.
  • In the refrigerator: Baklava should not be stored in the fridge, as the moisture can cause it to become soggy.
  • In the freezer: If stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, baklava can be frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw it at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

It’s important to note that baklava contains nuts and syrup, which can spoil or mold if left out for too long. Therefore, to ensure that the baklava stays fresh and safe to eat, it’s best to follow the storage guidelines above and consume it within the recommended time frame.

what is baklava
Image by stockking on Freepik

10. How to cut the baklava

Cutting baklava can be tricky, as the layers of phyllo dough and nuts can easily fall apart. Here are some tips for cutting baklava:

  1. Let it cool: Allow the baklava to cool completely before cutting it. If it’s still warm, cutting can be more challenging and may fall apart.
  2. Use a sharp knife: Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the baklava. A sharp knife will make cleaner cuts and prevent the pastry from crumbling.
  3. Cut into portions: Cut the baklava into the desired portion size, either small squares or diamond shapes.
  4. Cut all the way through: When cutting the baklava, be sure to cut all the way through to the bottom layer. If you don’t cut all the way through, the baklava can become lopsided and uneven.
  5. Use a sawing motion: Use a sawing motion with the knife to cut through the layers of phyllo dough and nuts. Don’t press down too hard, or you may crush the layers.
  6. Drizzle with syrup: After cutting the baklava, drizzle it with the syrup while it’s still warm. The syrup will soak into the pastry, adding moisture and sweetness to each piece.

11. What nuts are in baklava

Traditionally, baklava is made with a combination of chopped nuts, such as pistachios, walnuts, and/or almonds. The nuts are usually layered between sheets of phyllo dough and drizzled with sweet syrup or honey. Some variations of baklava may use other types of nuts, such as hazelnuts, pecans, or cashews, depending on regional or personal preferences. The specific combination of nuts used can vary depending on the recipe. Still, using nuts is a defining characteristic of this sweet pastry.

12. What is special about baklava?

Several things make baklava special:

  1. Rich flavor: Baklava has a unique and rich flavor profile from its combination of flaky phyllo dough, butter or oil, chopped nuts, and sweet syrup or honey. The mix of textures and flavors creates a delicious and indulgent treat that is loved around the world.
  2. Cultural significance: Baklava has been enjoyed for centuries in many countries, including Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. It’s a dessert with deep cultural roots. It is often served during special occasions, such as weddings, holidays, and religious celebrations.
  3. Labor-intensive preparation: Making baklava is a labor-intensive process that requires skill and attention to detail. Layering the phyllo dough and nuts takes time and patience. The syrup must be added carefully to ensure it soaks into the pastry evenly.
  4. Versatility: Baklava can be made in many different variations, with different types of nuts, spices, and syrups. It can also be shaped into different sizes and served with various accompaniments, such as ice cream, fresh fruit, or whipped cream.
  5. Healthy ingredients: Baklava is made with healthy ingredients, such as nuts and phyllo dough, which are a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. While it’s still a dessert and should be enjoyed in moderation, using these nutritious ingredients makes baklava a more wholesome treat than other desserts.
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
%d bloggers like this: