What does culinary perfection taste like to you? Is it when waves of sweet and savory goodness hit your tongue at the same time? Is it when you can taste all of the secret ingredients?
For us it’s when, every time you smell them, the dedication that went into the delicacy is apparent. It’s when you can tell bakers kneaded them with love and pure intentions.
Baklawa has a rich history. It’s the perfect dessert to share with family and friends during Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr, and other special occasions.
Tunisian Baklawa treats from Layla’s Delicaciespull you back in time to take a bite out of history and a diverse culture.
What Is the Difference Between Baklava and Baklawa?
This debate has been a hot topic since baklavas became globally popular. Frankly, most people interchange the terms.
However, there is a slight difference in the ingredients:
Difference #1: Baklava is flavored with cinnamon and cloves while baklawa is flavored with cardamom and orange blossom water or rose water.
Difference #2: The Greek baklava uses almonds, while baklawa uses a blend of almonds and pistachios.
A Little Historical Background
For a pastry so sweet, the baklawa has a lot of conflict behind it. No one can say exactly where it came from. However, the Armenians insist they had first dibs on it.
They even claim the name has Armenian roots — the words bakh and halvah mean “lent” and “sweet,” respectively.
Baklava recipes changed hands — or empires — several times. By the time they got to the Ottoman empire, there were Persian, Greek, Lebanese, Arabic, and Balkan variations.
Greek travelers got the baklawa from Mesopotamian traders and brought it home to Athens. They loved baklawa so much they made a process to make the dough thinner.
The technique used roller machines to stretch out the initial dough, called phyllo (“leaf” in Greek), looking to make the dough sheets leaf thin.
The traditional phyllo dough making process is more intense, taking up to 4 hours to produce baklava quality sheets.
Every culture that made baklava had a different approach to its ingredients and preparation.
Armenians put cinnamon and cloves in it; Persians introduced the diamond shapes and a touch of jasmine with the nuts; the Arabs threw in their signature rose and orange water.
As the Ottoman Empire expanded around this time, it merged the conquered nations’ recipes into one Turkish baklawa recipe.
“baklawa" came from the Arabs, who named it baqlāwa, borrowing the title from the Turkish. It would be correct to say that the Greek version is baklava, while the Turkish one is baklawa.
After you order your first batch from Layla’s Delicacies, you’ll be inspired to make this at home. Here’s a recipe for two half sheets of baklawa.
There are two parts to a great baklawa — the syrup and the phyllo.
For the syrup, you’ll need:
- 8 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- The juice of half a lemon
- 4 teaspoons of rose water
- 4 teaspoons of orange blossom water
For the baklawa, you’ll need:
- 4 sticks unsalted clarified butter
- 7 cups of pistachios
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 pre-packaged phyllo dough sheets
- 4 teaspoons of orange blossom water
- 4 teaspoons rose water
Thaw out the phyllo dough before baking.
Clarifying the Butter
Melt 4 sticks of unsalted butter over low heat, then remove from heat and let the boiled butter cool. Skim the foam from the top and strain the clear yellow liquid to separate from the solids at the bottom.
Preparing the Syrup
- Mix the sugar and water in a pot on medium-high heat. Let it boil until the sugar crystals are all dissolved.
- After all the water evaporates, boil for about 7 minutes, until the syrup is thick and heavy.
- Pour in your lemon squeeze, rose water, and orange water. Stir and set aside.
- Pour the syrup into a jar. Throw in a dash of lemon for that zesty zing. Wait for it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
You can store the syrup for up to 6 months for other uses.
Baking the Baklawa
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss your pistachio nuts and sugar in the food processor bowl. Pulse 7 to 10 times.
- Pour in the rose water and orange blossom water you had set for the baklawa.
- Use a pastry brush to coat your half sheet pan with unsalted clarified butter.
- Stack the phyllo sheets on top of each other in the pan, coating the layers in the clarified butter.
- Evenly spread a generous serving of the nut and sugar filling across the phyllo sheets.
- Drizzle a hint of the butter on the nut filling.
- Lay the other sheets of phyllo dough on top of your pistachio and sugar filling.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo pastry into diamond shapes. (You can coat the knife with some butter when you cut, so it doesn’t ruin the phyllo.)
- Drizzle some butter on the diamond-shaped phyllo, making sure it seeps into the cracks.
- Place your half sheet pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 15 minutes. Check the temperature to make sure your baklavas don’t get too brown.
- Once the top sheet of phyllo is golden, remove your baking pan from the oven. Both the top side and the bottom should be golden brown.
- Drizzle the syrup on the baklawa while the baklawa is still hot.
Baklava needs about 8 hours for the syrup to soak the phyllo and nut filling. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
How to Serve Baklawa During Eid Al Fitr
Because baklawa is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, serve it with tea and coffee. The bitterness of coffee and the silky feel of tea complements the baklawa dough’s flakiness
Tunisian baklawa goes incredibly well with mint tea. Mint’s freshness heightens the zesty orange blossom water in the pastry.
Alternatively, you can garnish baklawa with crushed nuts and eat without an accompaniment.
“HEAVENLY DELICIOUS, THERE IS NO WORD TO DESCRIBE HOW GOOD THIS ARE, VERY SPECIAL‼️” — Luis Torres (Brooklyn, US)
Is Baklava Healthy to Eat?
Typically, baklava is sweet. However, Layla’s Delicacies baklawa is only 30 percent sugar. It's sweet, savory, buttery, and definitely won’t hurt your fitness goals.
Pistachios, almonds, and walnuts contain unsaturated fats. Top your baklawa off with this nut mixture for a low-calorie treat.
“Love the Tunisian-style baklava from Layla’s! Filled with almond, it is deliciously sweet and fulfilling. I especially love the design and attention to detail, superb.” — Gorica Majstorovic (Collingswood, US)
Culture Worth Sharing
Baklawa has spread to many parts of the world, and not only for its taste. It has built bonds and enriched cultures.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful gift that will live in memory, baklawa is sure to do the trick.
Layla’s Delicacies offers a wonderful selection, complete with food-safe packaging for long-distance delivery. Check out the Shop Originals section to order your authentic Tunisian baklawa by the pound.
Or, order the Corporate Gifting selection for your bulk Ramadan and Eid al Fitr treats.