بقلاوة Homemade Arabic Walnut Baklava. Homemade walnut baklava is an easy Arabic dessert recipe you can make right at home! All you need to make this delicious crispy flaky Arabic baklava recipe is phyllo dough, butter, walnuts, cinnamon, and honey syrup!
Baklava in Arabic: بقلاوة
How to pronounce Baklava in Arabic: "Bak-lah-wah"
I have made this crispy walnut baklava recipe countless times for my Jordanian in-laws and they all LOVED it! Some have even said it was the best baklava they have ever had which is a huge compliment!
Baklava is really easy to make at home, and the only difficult part is handling the delicate phyllo dough. As long as you are gentle with your dough, you can easily make it in no time!
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL ARABIC BAKLAVA MADE OF?
Traditional baklava is made out of 40 sheets of phyllo dough layered with butter, nuts, and then drizzled with syrup. The 40 layers of phyllo dough give it the signature flaky, airy, and crispy texture.
WATCH HOW I MADE WALNUT BAKLAVA
FLAKY ARABIC WALNUT BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS
- Phyllo dough
- Ground cinnamon
- Vanilla extract
Where do I find phyllo dough in the grocery store? You can find phyllo dough usually located in the freezer section near the pie crusts and puff pastry. Phyllo dough is sold in narrow rectangular boxes.
Is Puff Pastry the same as Phyllo Dough? Puff pastry is not the same as phyllo dough and you won't get the same result if you substitute it. Phyllo dough is much thinner than puff pastry dough.
KITCHEN TOOLS NEEDED TO MAKE HOMEMADE ARABIC WALNUT BAKLAVA
- Food processor or blender (if you are chopping whole walnuts)
- Sheet pan with 1 inch edges
- Pastry brush
- Sauce pan
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY ARABIC WALNUT BAKLAVA
Start with your roll of frozen phyllo dough.
A note about frozen phyllo dough: make sure you thaw it completely before unrolling. IF you don't thaw it out, it can crack as you unroll it (as seen below). This is okay because you are going to cut it anyway. But if you wanted to cut it into diamond shapes, you won't be able to do so if it cracks lengthwise.
Once your dough is thawed at room temperature, carefully unroll the dough on a large cutting board.
Next, you will cut your dough in half lengthwise. This will roughly fit your 9 x 13" baking pan. If it is a bit too large for the pan, just slice the excess dough off the edges.
Grease the bottom and sides of your pan generously with butter. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can you use a smaller pan? Yes! you can definitely use a smaller pan and cut the phyllo dough to fit. But, you might end up with a shorter baking time so keep an eye on it.
Cover half your dough with a damp cloth or paper towel while you work to prevent it from drying out and cracking.
HOW TO MAKE WALNUT FILLING FOR BAKLAVA
Toss the 1 pound of chopped walnuts in 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a bowl.
If you bought whole walnuts like I did, use your blender or food processor to chop them into small pieces. The walnut pieces should be about the size of a green pea.
Melt 1 cup of butter in the microwave.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE WALNUT BAKLAVA
In your greased pan, lay two sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire top of the dough with the melted butter. Repeat this 4 times so that you have a base layer of 8 sheets with no walnuts.
BAKLAVA BASE IS:
2 sheets phyllo dough, brush with butter x 4= 8 sheets
Next, begin adding your walnut filling. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the walnut and cinnamon mixture evenly across the dough.
Top with 2 sheets of phyllo dough.
Brush with more butter. You will repeat this process 7-8 times.
ARABIC WALNUT BAKLAVA FILLING:
2-3 tablespoons walnut filling, add 2 sheets phyllo dough, brush with butter. Repeat 7-8 times.
Add 2 sheets phyllo dough on top of the walnuts. Brush with butter.
Add 2 more sheets of phyllo dough. Brush with butter. Repeat this 3-4 times so your top layer is 6-8 sheets deep with no walnut filling.
HOW TO CUT BAKLAVA
It can be cut into rectangles, like below. Or you can get fancier and cut it into diamonds! I chose rectangles because my dough ripped and I had to utilize that.
When you are cutting it, make sure your knife goes all the way through to the bottom.
Walnut Baklava cut into rectangular shape:
Pro tip: dip your knife in water before slicing it!
Baklava cut into triangle shape:
Finally, brush the top of your cut baklava with butter again.
Bake it for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit) or until the top is golden brown.
Spoon the honey syrup over your baklava immediately after taking it out of the oven.
HOW TO MAKE ARABIC BAKLAVA HONEY SYRUP
While your baklava bakes, make the honey syrup.
You should make the baklava honey syrup when the baklava has about 30 minutes left. If you make the honey syrup too early, your syrup might get too thick to absorb into your baklava. I like to think of the perfect baklava honey syrup consistency as the difference between real maple syrup and artificial maple syrup. You want the consistency to be more watery, like real maple syrup. If it is thick like artificial maple syrup, you have boiled it too long!
In a saucepan, dissolve the 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water over medium high heat. Bring this mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ cup honey.
Keep your honey syrup at a simmer for about 20 minutes until the baklava is done baking.
The baklava is done baking when the top is a nice golden brown color. Air on the side of a darker brown golden brown, this will help add to the crispiness of your finished dessert!
HOW TO POUR HONEY SYRUP OVER WALNUT BAKLAVA
Once your baklava is done baking, you can pour the honey syrup over the top.
Remove your baklava from the oven and immediately pour the honey mixture over the top.
Make sure you pour the honey mixture evenly across all pieces.
Allow your walnut baklava to cool & get crispy before serving.
Why is my baklava not crispy?
Baklava must be cut before baking to ensure that not only it bakes properly, so that your dough can quickly absorb the honey syrup after it is taken out of the oven. Make sure to not boil your honey syrup for too long though! If your syrup is too thick it will not absorb into the baklava and sit at the bottom, making the bottom layer of your baklava very soggy.
Another thing that makes baklava crispy is that each layer of phyllo dough is brushed with melted butter. Make sure to brush each and every layer evenly with melted butter!
Finally, you might have removed your baklava too soon from the oven. Make sure the top is very golden brown before you take it out of the oven.
If it is not crispy, you either have not baked it for long enough, didn't layer the sheets properly with the butter mixture, or waited too long to pour the honey syrup over the top after baking.
How do you make walnut baklava not soggy?
First, you must brush each layer with melted butter to make sure you get crispy phyllo dough. Don't try to quickly throw the phyllo dough in without the melted butter. Melted butter brushed across each layer is necessary to get that flaky crispy texture.
Also, the honey syrup must be poured over top of your baklava immediately after removing it from the oven. If you let your pan cool too much, they honey mixture will sit in your pan and make your dough become soggy. When you pour the hot simmering honey into the hot pan from the oven, it will easily be absorbed by the phyllo dough and leave your with a nice crispy shell.
I always keep my honey syrup simmering right up until I take the pan from the oven. Then, I immediately pour all the hot honey syrup into the hot pan. If done correctly, you will see a lot of steam evaporate off the pan as you are pouring the honey mixture.
HOW TO SERVE WALNUT BAKLAVA
It is best served fresh the day of baking after it has cooled down. Serve each piece by itself as the delicious flavor is more than enough! But, some people like to serve it with vanilla ice cream on the side.
Do you heat up baklava? Never heat it up after baking! If you heat it up you will lose all the phyllo dough's crispiness and it will taste awful.
HOW TO STORE WALNUT BAKLAVA
Store at room temperature covered with a big piece of aluminum foil or a towel. You don't want to store it for too long as it will start to get soggy. The best amount of time to store baklava at room temperature is for about 3 days. But, it never lasts that long in our house!
If you are worried about it going bad and wasting it, just make a smaller sized batch in a smaller pan.
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See how I made my homemade baklava:
The Best Arabic Walnut Baklava (بقلاوة)
- 9 x 13" pan
- Food processor
- 1 16oz package phyllo dough thawed at room temperature
For the walnut cinnamon filling:
- 1 pound chopped walnuts was ~3 heaping cups whole
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½- 1 cup butter, melted sub coconut oil
- Thaw your phyllo dough if frozen.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease the bottom and sides of your 9 x 13" pan.
For the walnut filling:
- Add 1 pound chopped walnuts to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
- Unroll thawed phyllo dough very carefully. Cut the dough in half to fit your pan 9" x 13" pan. Cover half with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out while you work with the first half.
- Melt ½ cup butter (melt more as needed).
How to assemble your baklava:
- Place 2 sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan. Brush entire top of dough with melted butter using a pastry brush. Repeat this 4 times (so you will have 8 layers of dough on the bottom).
- Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the nut mixture across the top. Add 2 sheets of phyllo dough. Brush entire top with melted butter. Repeat 7-8 times. Sprinkle with the final 2-3 tablespoons of nuts.
- Add 2 sheets of the dough on top of the nuts. Brush with melted butter. Repeat this 3-4 times. The top layer should be 6-8 sheets of phyllo dough deep.
- Cut the baklava into squares or diamonds using a sharp knife before baking. Make sure you cut completely through to the bottom. Wetting the knife before cutting helps A LOT!
- Brush the top of your baklava one more time with melted butter after it is cut.Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
For the honey syrup:
- While the baklava bakes, make your honey syrup. Start the syrup when the timer for the baklava has 30 minutes left.In a small saucepan, dissolve 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add ½ cup honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Keep your honey syrup at a simmer until the baklava is done baking, for about 20 minutes.
- Spoon the honey syrup over the baklava immediately after taking it out of the oven.Allow the pan of baklava to cool before serving.Enjoy!
- To store your baklava:Cover loosely with parchment paper or foil and store at room temperature. It is best within the first 3 days while it is still very crispy!