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Classic Baklava

Classic Baklava

  • Yield: About 36 1 1/2-inch pieces


  • For the Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  • For the Filling

  • 1 pound walnuts, or a combination of walnuts, pistachios, and almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 pound phyllo, thawed according to package instructions


  • Make the syrup: Combine sugar, honey, water, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon zest and set syrup aside to cool.
  • Make the filling: Using a chef's knife, finely chop nuts. (Alternatively, place nuts in 2 heavy-duty resealable bags and pound them with a rolling pin until finely chopped.) In a medium mixing bowl, combine nuts, cinnamon, and salt and stir well to combine.
  • Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan.
  • Using a pastry brush, lightly coat a 13-by-9-inch or 15-by-10-inch baking dish with melted butter.
  • Open the package of thawed phyllo and lay sheets on a clean work surface. Measure the phyllo sheets; if they measure approximately the same size as the baking dish you are using, proceed from here. If they are larger than your baking dish, use a sharp knife to cut them approximately the same size as your baking dish. Discard any scraps. Cover sheets with plastic wrap and a lightly damp kitchen towel, as phyllo dries out very quickly if left uncovered.
  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Fold 1 sheet of phyllo in half and place in the bottom of buttered baking dish; lightly brush with melted butter. Repeat with 6 more sheets phyllo for a total of 7 layers. Spread about 1/3 cup nut mixture evenly over buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat with 7 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each layer as before, topping with another 1/3 cup nut mixture. Continue until you have used all of the nut mixture. Layer any remaining phyllo on top, buttering between each sheet, until all phyllo has been used.
  • Use a sharp knife to make 4 cuts lengthwise through the layered phyllo at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Then cut diagonally across the strips at 1 1/2-inch intervals to form diamond shapes. You should end up with approximately 36 diamond-shaped pieces.
  • Bake baklava until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  • Remove baklava from oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Using a ladle or small measuring cup, slowly drizzle cooled syrup over warm baklava. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to stand several hours before serving.