Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 14” x 20” baking dish
Greek bakalva
  • 6 cups walnuts*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 pound of unsalted butter
  • 1 pound of phyllo
  • *Or use a mix of chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios). My Yiayia Metos used a combination of almonds and walnuts.
For the syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup Karo syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon, halved
  1. Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Combine the chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and allspice in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Butter a baking dish (14” x 20”) generously with melted butter. Place one phyllo sheet on the bottom of the pan, brush pastry with butter. Repeat until you have buttered 6-7 sheets of phyllo.
  3. YIAYIA’s TIP: When working with phyllo dough, be sure to cover the stack with a damp cloth to keep the pastry from drying out. Keep the phyllo under plastic wrap, so the damp towel doesn’t soak the sheets.
  4. Sprinkle 1 cup of nut mixture evenly on top. Add two pieces of phyllo and brush with butter in between. Sprinkle another cup of nut mixture, and then two pieces of phyllo. Repeat until all the nut mixture is used (you should get about 5 layers).
  5. Top with another layer of 6-7 sheets of phyllo, again brushing each one with melted butter.
  6. YIAYIA’s TIP: Be sure to butter the layers well to avoid a dry baklava, don’t skimp on the butter!
  7. Brush the top with melted butter. Cut the baklava before baking. Cut into 1 ½ wide strips, and then diagonally about 1 ½ apart to form diamond pieces.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 90 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp.
  9. While the dessert is in the oven, make the syrup. Bring all the ingredients to a boil for 10 minutes, or until sugar is involved. Discard lemon before using. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  10. Once the baklava is done, remove from the oven. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava.
  11. Set aside to cool, uncovered. As a finishing touch, you can also put a clove into each piece to hold it together, or sprinkle with nuts.
Baklava freezes well, so bake a large pan like this ahead of time to have ready for guests and holiday parties.
Recipe by Eleni Saltas at