Cultural Confections – Pistachio Baklava

Isabelle Baumann, Editor

  Baklava is a traditional dessert with its first form coming from the Assyrian Empire, around 800 BC. Great British Chefs, an online community of “passionate food lovers,” explains that this first version was created when “layers of bread dough were stretched thinly and baked with chopped nuts and honey for special occasions” (GBC). As trade between the middle eastern empires grew, the Ancient Greeks became fans of the delicacy and developed their own version by using an incredibly thin dough called phyllo (leaf). The GBC explains that this is what made the “layers lighter and more delicate.” As the trade networks for silks and spices expanded, the recipe was modified to include ingredients such as rosewater, cardamon, and cinnamon. Finally, the GBC concludes that “the baklava we know and love today is thanks to the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth century onwards” (GBC).  This is because the  “vast empire encompassed many countries” and  “each nation probably influenced or changed its recipe as they were conquered by the Ottomans” (GBC). It was then perfected in the Topkapi Palace kitchens in seventeenth-century Istanbul.

   The recipe I prepared is from the New York Times’s cooking page and is adapted from Karakoy Gulluoglu’s recipe by Melissa Clark. It yields around 36 pieces and takes 2 ½ hours to prepare (including cooling). It is a very simple recipe with only five ingredients and is pretty easy to make (just make sure not to burn the butter or the syrup).  This is probably one of my favorite recipes yet as I loved learning the history behind the desert and trying the final product, which was absolutely delicious. The pastries were sweet without being overwhelming as the pistachios seemed to balance out the flavors. I was unable to bring it into school for the staff to try due to online learning, but my family thoroughly enjoyed it! Overall, I would definitely recommend this recipe to everyone and if you try it, let us know what you think. 

Link to the recipe :