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What Is Baklava, As Seen on ‘The Great British Bake Off’?

Baklava is beloved for its sweet syrup, crunchy nut filling, and thin, flaky layers of phyllo dough. This layered dessert originated broadly in the Ottoman Empire, but has since been widely accepted as a Turkish or Greek specialty. The one group of people who aren’t a fan of baklava? The remaining contestants on The Great British Bake Off, who, this past week, were given the challenge of making baklava from scratch—including the phyllo pastry dough. “This particular recipe will push you to the limit. Don’t waste any time,” said co-judge Paul Hollywood. In just two hours and 45 minutes, contestants were expected to prepare baklava with phyllo pastry made using a traditional laminating technique and then layered with a pistachio-walnut filling and cut into a star design.

What Is Baklava?

There are always variations but traditional baklava is made with phyllo dough, honey-lemon simple syrup, and a spiced nut filling (usually walnuts, or walnuts and pistachios, as seen on GBBO). As the baklava bakes, typically in either a round or rectangular cake pan, the top of the pastry is brushed with melted butter, which helps it to become golden brown. It’s generally served slightly warm or at room temperature, but Food52’s Kristen Miglore finds that baklava straight out of the oven is life-changing.

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