Holiday Baklava for Your Festive Gathering: Step by Step Tutorial & #Recipe

Sponsored by Aunt Sue’s Raw & Unfiltered Honey. All thoughts are my own.

When I was growing up, my family and I attended a holiday party at the home of our Greek friends every season. We loved playing with our friends and popping into the dining room to enjoy all of the delicious goodies that were always spread out over the tables. Mrs. J was an excellent cook and made some of the most delicious appetizers I have ever eaten. In my eyes, she is still famous for her spanakopita, which I was quite obsessed with.

When I became older, I learned how to make spanakopita on my own. It's painstaking to make, but the flaky layers of Phyllo dough brushed with butter, hugging a mixture of spinach and feta is oh, so good! It's a family favorite and is requested every year during the holidays. I enjoy working with Phyllo dough. It's temperamental, which always presents a challenge when working with it. If treated properly, however, it will yield absolutely delicious appetizers, dishes, and desserts.

I'll still be making spanakopita this Christmas, but I also wanted to try my hand at Baklava, a traditional Greek dessert. Baklava is a sweet treat made with Phyllo dough, walnuts, and lots of honey. In the grand scheme of things, it's a pretty simple and straightforward dessert. It's the Phyllo dough that makes folks scared to try to make it. I've been working with Phyllo dough for years and have a few tricks up my sleeve to make the process go smoothly.

Let's make Baklava...

There are two majorly important ingredients in this dessert- the Phyllo dough and the honey. The honey is what brings the Phyllo and the walnuts together, so you want to make sure that you're using the best honey you can find. I used Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Wildflower Honey in my Baklava. It's become my honey of choice for cooking, baking, and everyday use.

You Will Need:

1 package of Phyllo Dough (2 rolls, thawed in the fridge)
2 1/2 Sticks of Melted Butter (unsalted)
3 Cups of Walnuts, Chopped 
1 Tsp Ground Cinamon
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup of Tepid Water
1/2 Cup Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Wildflower Honey
*Extra Chopped Walnuts for Garnish- optional

Step 1- Prepare the Phyllo Dough

Make sure the Phyllo dough has thawed. I purchase the dough in the frozen food section of the grocery store, and it usually comes two rolls to a pack. You'll need both rolls for this recipe. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight, and you'll be ready to work with it the next day.

You may need to trim your dough. In truth, I skipped the trimming. I was afraid that the dough would crack and tear. I used a 9x13 baking dish to bake the Baklava, and only wound up with a bit of excess dough on the sides. If you'd like to trim to fit your baking pan, go for it. Just be sure to keep damp towels over the dough to keep it from drying out.

Grease (butter) the bottom and sides of your baking dish.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Make the Honey Sauce

Before we even build the Baklava or work with the dough, we need to get the base of this dish together, which is the honey sauce that will soak into the Baklava after it bakes.

Combine the honey, lemon juice and water in a medium saucepan on the stove. Bring to a mid-boil over medium heat and stir continuously, until all of the sugar has dissolved into the mixture. Reduce the heat and bring to a low boil, allowing the mixture to boil for 3-4 minutes. Do not stir. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool.

Build the Baklava

Now the fun begins! Make sure that you have plenty of melted butter on hand during this process. Do not let the butter start to congeal. Reheat it if need be, and work quickly to keep the dough from drying out- otherwise, it will crack and break. Phyllo is very delicate, so treat it with care.

Pulse the walnuts a few times in a food processor to get them very fine. If you don't have a food processor, you can crush them in a Ziploc bag with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer. Mix together Cinnamon and walnuts. Set walnuts aside.

Take 10 sheets of the Phyllo dough for your Baklava base. Add sheets to the baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with butter as you go. Spread 1/5 of the walnut mixture over the top layer of Phyllo dough in the baking dish.

Your Baklava will look like this as you add the layers of Phyllo and top with the walnuts.

Add 5 more sheets of Phyllo dough (each layer brushed with butter), and top with 1/5 of the walnut mixture. You will repeat this process 4 more times. Top the Baklava with 10 more sheets of Pyhllo dough and brush with butter.

The order for the layers of dough and walnut mixture is:
10 buttered phyllo sheets, nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets,  nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets,  nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets, nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets, nut mixture
10 buttered phyllo sheets and butter the top.

Slice the layers of the Baklava before baking...

Slice lengthwise into strips- 4 across. This works best by slicing down the middle, and then doing the same on each side. Go slowly and carefully as you slice through the layers of Phyllo. You may need to hold the dough in place as you gently pull the knife through.

Cut the Baklava into diamonds.
Start in the top left corner, and cut diagonally to form little diamonds.

Bake Baklava for 1 hour (you may need an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is), or until the top is golden brown.

Baklava should look like this right out of the oven.

Once the Baklava comes out of the oven, immediately grab the honey mixture that has been cooling. Spoon the honey sauce over the Baklava. You should hear the Baklava crack and sizzle as you work. This allows that yummy honey to soak into all of the cracks and get between those flaky layers of dough. Use all of the honey mixture.

Your Baklava should look like this after you've added the honey... golden and honey-kissed!

I'd like to say that you've done the hard part once you've made the Baklava, but the hardest part of all is waiting to taste it! Let the Baklava sit for 2-4 hours, or even better, overnight. You really want to give the honey a chance to soak through completely.

Enjoy your Baklava!

The Baklava is worth waiting for- trust me on this. Once it has set up, you can carefully remove the pieces and serve your family and friends. Definitely give yourself a pat on the back as you bite into a piece and enjoy the flaky, honey-soaked deliciousness of this dessert. It's not the easiest dessert to make, but once you've made it, you'll wonder why you ever doubted yourself. You'll be asked to make this again and again- that's how good it is!

Store the Baklava (covered) at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

This is some of the best Baklava I have ever had. My husband isn't fond of nuts, but he loves this Baklava. For us, the honey used make a big difference in the flavor of this dessert. We use Aunt Sue's Honey at home in our tea, on our biscuits, and in general cooking and baking. It's a stand-out product that we just can't get enough of.

Where to find Aunt Sue's Honey

Head on over to Aunt Sue's Honey to learn more about their hive to home honey products. Purchase Aunt Sue's Honey on their website or on Amazon.
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What will you use Aunt Sue's Honey for this holiday season? 
Tell us in the comments!

Happy Holidays from my kitchen to yours...

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