Let’s eat sweets, talk sweet… Baklava…

The phrase, “Let’s eat sweets, talk sweet” is a very frequently used one in Turkey. It reflects our desire to talk about nice, joyful things in our lives but we can not do as such unless we are eating sweets!  So we eat puddings, icecream, pastries, candy, chocolate but nothing beats the place of baklava in our culture! This is the dessert that we bring as a hostess gift to the places we are invited, the vacuumed packages that we tuck into the deep corners of our luggage, the food that we are willing to fight for if another country claims the rights to it!

So when I saw the Daring Bakers’ Challenge for June, I was so excited that I finally had the chance to try my grandma’s baklava! She and the rest of the family make baklava only two-three times a year for special weeks that we celebrate. She makes the dough, rolls it out. My mom layers it with nuts. My grandfather used to cut perfectly diamond shapes. Then the melted clarified butter  is poured over it, baked. Then layers of baklava sits in syrup overnight, getting ready for next day’s guests.

Blog-checking lines: Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

My grandma Emine’s recipe is very different than what we were given by Erica. I have attached the recipe here. The major difference is that Erica’s recipe is healthier! She makes it in a 9″x9″ pan with 18 layers of dough and brushes the butter on the layers. Although she called out for 2 sticks of butter, she mentioned that she used only half.

Emine, on the other hand, uses four sticks of butter and divides the dough in 5 pieces first. Then she divides each piece of dough into 15 much smaller portions. She rolls out each small piece up to an 8 inch diameter circle. She stacks up 15 circles, sprinkling generous amount of wheat starch between the layers. Then she rolls out the whole stack to 16 inch diameter circle. You might not see the point of rolling out individual pieces at first if you are going to roll out the whole thing together. But the starch between the layers keeps them separate as it bakes. So you get single layers eventually. Also, with 5 layers of dough and 4 layers of nuts, it tends to be a tall baklava! I used ground walnuts and pistachios. I noticed that they blended with the dough and prevented baklava becoming crunchy. So if you like to feel that crunch when you bite into it, opt for chopped nuts.

(small circles stacked up with starch in between)

The syrup amount that my grandma gave was a bit excessive for my taste. But she says it will soak it up in a day. Next time I make it, I will try 2/3 of the amount.I had already altered the recipe and instead of  dividing 1/5th of the dough into 15 small pieces, I divided into 6. So I had 30 layers of dough and it was enough work for me! Imagine my grandma’s with 75 layers! I used 16-inch diameter deep baking pan, but next time, I will halve the recipe and make it in a smaller pan.

Without waiting for the next day after baklava soaks the syrup, I ate a piece and was reminded again why I do not eat baklava often or only one piece when I do. Two words for you: Sweet & heavy!

If you don’t want to clog your arteries or go into a sugar coma, there is a fake dessert called frozen yogurt that might satisfy your sweet tooth. But if you are thinking “What the heck!, there is a pill for those, Bring It On!” , then here is Emine’s recipe:

Emine’s Baklava

  • 800 gr unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 300 ml vegetable oil
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • Wheat starch (to sprinkle between the layers)

For baking

  • 4 sticks of butter (you might get away with 2)


  • 8 cups of sugar
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  • 6  cups of ground walnuts (or use the nuts you like – it should be enough to cover each layer of dough)


  1. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a big bowl.
  2. Add the wet ingredients and combine to make it a soft dough.
  3. Cover, let it rest for an hour.
  4. Make the syrup, set aside.
  5. Divide the dough in 5 equal pieces. Set 4 of them aside and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Divide one piece of dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each of them into 8 inch diameter circles. Stack the circles on top of each other with wheat starch sprinkled between the layers.
  7. Roll the stack big enough to fit your pan.
  8. Put the layer in the greased baking pan.
  9. Layer the nuts over the dough.
  10. Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.
  11. When all the layers are done, cut the baklava in square or diamond shapes.
  12. Turn the oven to 340-degrees.
  13. Spoon the melted clarified butter over baklava evenly.
  14. Put the baklava in the lukewarm oven.
  15. Bake until it is golden brown (about 1 hour to 75 minutes).
  16. Right after it comes out of the oven, pour the cooled syrup over hot, sizzling baklava.
  17. Let it rest overnight.





  1. by Nefis
    5:50 am
    Jun 27, 2011

    WOW Ilke..It is a big project, looks awesome and I am sure it is delicous too.I wish we live in the same town to eat what you have been cooking so far.
    Selam ve Sevgiler

  2. by Peggy
    8:04 am
    Jun 27, 2011

    Great job with the Daring Bakers Challenge! And so glad that you could channel your grandmother’s recipe – it’s always great when you can really relate and feel passionate about the challenges =)

  3. by Shannon
    9:57 am
    Jun 27, 2011

    I love Baklava but have never tried baking it (mostly because I’m afraid I’ll eat the pan, by myself) but I’m going to have to try this recipe. This looks so tasty!

  4. by Victoria Kaloust
    10:57 am
    Jun 27, 2011

    I love your Baklava it reminds me of my Grandmothers’.
    Will try your recipe next time I make some

    Thank you for sharing

  5. by nachiketa
    2:48 pm
    Jun 27, 2011

    What a lovely Baklava….. great flavours :)
    Your grandma’s recipe would have been fun to try as long as i ate just 1 pcs n could share the rest…. would surely love to try it…
    Chocolate Baklava Laced With Tequila ~ Rolling Phyllo with Daring Bakers

    The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts – Nachiketa
    Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

  6. by rebecca
    6:41 pm
    Jun 27, 2011

    love it oh man I so want some ate loads in Turkey couldn’t stop walking in and buying it

  7. by Lana
    7:43 pm
    Jun 27, 2011

    I can’t believe that you made your own dough! That would be some challenge for me:) I managed to make the dough for pita (the thin one, that you stretch across the table, and pull, and then fill with cheese, or leeks, or spinach, and roll into a spiral?) and I was so proud of myself, but this is quite some accomplishment.
    I grew up with baklava, too, and your diamond shapes reminded me of my mom’s recipe (she used yogurt sometimes to cut on sweetness and to add the moisture, but baklava is baklava, it has to be sweet:)
    Great job, Ilke!

  8. by Parsley Sage
    8:18 pm
    Jun 27, 2011

    Impressive! That’s an amazing dessert! Way to rock it out :) I hope you had more than just one piece…

  9. by Ilke
    9:07 pm
    Jun 27, 2011

    Thanks Ladies, I wish you all were here to help me finish the tray!
    Lana, that is an interesting way to cut the sweetness. You need to write the recipes when you are in Serbia in three weeks!

  10. by Val
    12:36 am
    Jun 28, 2011

    Now that looks like Baklava! Amazing. Your Grandma Emines recipe really makes baklava look approachable. I have never dared attempt phyllo pastry but I think I stand a chance now with your clear and simple instructions. Thanks!

  11. by Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    10:29 am
    Jun 28, 2011

    Wow – you are a magician! That is absolutely incredible! I thought I was a baker – but you take the cake – or baklava!

  12. by Melinda
    12:36 pm
    Jun 28, 2011

    Unfortuantely, I am allergic to nuts, but I have ALWYAS thought Baklava to be such a beautiful dessert. I am so utterly impressed with your beautifu display and artistry! I can’t even imagine how much time your grandma must have put into that though! WOW!!!

  13. by Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets
    2:41 pm
    Jun 28, 2011

    Wow I love the presentation/slicing! I wouldn’t be able to wait to dig into this beauty!

  14. by Lell Trogdon
    5:28 pm
    Jun 28, 2011

    Wow! That is the most beautiful Baklava I have ever seen! Seriously, I have never been brave enough to take on the true recipe. I’m impressed and think your family must be so proud of your determination to share the true taste of your heritage with all of us. Speaking of sharing…… Where is my piece?

  15. by All That I'm Eating
    3:20 pm
    Jun 29, 2011

    Wow! I’ve never seen how they’re made they look so lovely I’m surprised you can bear to scoop pieces out! I’ve always wanted to know and I bet homemade is a million miles from the shop bought ones.

  16. by Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    10:58 am
    Jun 30, 2011

    Lovely!! I m so happy to see an authentic recipe of baklava from scratch w/o use of phyllo sheets.Looks outrageously neat & good- hope I ll be able to re create it some day!

  17. by Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    10:59 am
    Jun 30, 2011

    Not sure if I commented twice? My browser just stuck while I was typing :(

  18. by Lisa @ Tarte du Jour
    6:39 pm
    Jul 2, 2011

    Beautiful Baklava! I’ve never made it before but you have inspired me!

  19. by Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen
    6:18 pm
    Jul 3, 2011

    Just had some of this last night at a Greek restaurant for my husband’s birthday, yummy! I’ve never made it myself, but when I decide to tackle it I will be sure to try your recipe. :)

  20. by Joyti
    4:15 am
    Jul 5, 2011

    This looks really delicious. And your grandmother’s 75 – 75! – layer bakalava sounds amazing, and complex. But I think I’d love yours, as I prefer my sweets to be…less sweet.

  21. by Sommer@ASpicyPerspective
    9:45 am
    Jul 6, 2011

    Oh my word, Ilke, that is gorgeous!!!

    My hubby has Hungarian roots so he adores nutty pastries. I usually make him kiffles, but I’m going to have to surprise him with this!

  22. by Roz
    9:23 am
    Jul 7, 2011

    I remember the first time I bit into a piece of baklava! I couldn’t believe how delicious it was! I watched how to prepare it on a food tv show last year and so someday I’d like to make this wonderful, traditional sweet treat!

  23. by Katie
    8:11 pm
    Jul 12, 2011

    This looks gorgeous. (And delicious, of course)

  24. by debbey
    4:37 am
    Sep 17, 2012

    first time to your blog, want to make this but confused wont the egg in the dough give eggy smell to finished product? otherwise your baklawa is looking so tempting. please reply to my question .

  25. by Ilke
    10:55 am
    Sep 18, 2012

    Hi Debbey,
    It did not give any egg smell to the finished product. At least not that I can smell. When you consider almost 2 lbs flour going in, and then drenched in syrup, even if there is a slightest smell, it will be masked I assume – unless you are very sensitive to eggs or smell, I dont think you can smell the eggs. Hope it turns out great!


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