If you haven’t figured it out, I’m part Greek. My great grandfather moved to America when he was 17, settled down in central Pennsylvania, and ran a shoe repair shop until his death in 1966. I never met him, but I also can’t help but be proud of my Greek heritage.
Food remains the one Greek tradition that trickled down through my family. We lost my grandfather’s original recipes but continue to make Greek-inspired dishes all year round, with feta, pita, and Kalamata olives serving as household staples.
For Christmas specifically, we make baklava. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert comprised of three main ingredients — phyllo dough, walnuts, and honey. It’s a sweet, sticky, light, and crispy treat, perfect with a cup of tea by the fire.
Baklava Syrup Ingredients:
- 2 cups honey
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and let cool.
- 1 1/4 sticks of melted butter
- 1 package of phyllo dough
- 2 pounds of walnuts
- 1/2 cups of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
Step 1: Place walnuts in a food processor and grind until very fine. Add sugar and cinnamon to the ground walnuts and mix together.
Step 4: Rub a 9x13x2 inch pan with butter. Unroll phyllo dough and place on plastic wrap. Then cover dough with a cool damp cloth to keep it from drying out.
Step 5: Pull apart one sheet of phyllo dough, place on the bottom and brush with butter. Continue this until the base is three sheets high. Then sprinkle with a thin layer of chopped walnuts.
Step 6: For the rest of the pastry, stack three sheets of dough together, cover the top with butter, and add the walnut mixture. Continue this process until the dough reaches the top of the pan.
Step 7: To finish, stack with five sheets of dough and butter each sheet.
Step 8: Score the top of the dough with diamond shapes (cut into three length-wise and cut diagonal).
Step 9: Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Step 10: Remove from oven and cover with cooled syrup. Allow syrup to soak in. Serve and enjoy!
There you have it, a Baklava recipe suitable for Zeus himself. Any other baklava recipes out there? Send them over. I’d love to try them!