Baklava – delicacy from the East

What is baklava?

Delicacies from the East are well known around the world and Baklava is one of them.

This pie with cooked nuts aroma has so many names and tastes. This multilayer dessert was a real treat of the sultans and kings. Eastern baklava in all its diversity – a real jewel of the former Ottoman Empire.

Baklava origin

The first baklava, according to historians, was prepared in the 15th century for the Turkish sultan. First baklava recipe looked something like this – chopped nuts being placed between several thin sheets of dough or bread, pistachio in pieces and some honey, all baked it in primitive furnaces.

Nowadays, baklava is a mandatory desert in Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish cuisine. This sweet pie can have up to 70 thin crusts and can be prepared in a variety of ways, but anyway is one of the sweetest delicacy in this regions.

In earlier times people could taste this desert exclusively in households or in pastry shops and today it can be found in supermarkets.  Many people do not know how to bake baklava at home and prefer to buy it.

Features of the recipe

Sweet, juicy, full taste candy perfection used to be made only with walnuts, sugar, crusts and some lemon on the top (or not, depends on the taste), but today we have many other kinds of baklava.

There are a lot of unique recipes for baklava. Each mistress carefully keeps the secrets of its preparation. The most important secret – the dough for it should be rolled up to the state of transparent tulle.But there is something in common that unites all of them.

–    A special way to prepare a dough for honey treats – the dough rolls to the finest state. The thinner, the better.

–    The essence of this dessert is that, it consists, of many finest layers of dough and walnut layer: it can be almonds, walnuts, pistachios. First, they are crushed, then boiled in honey, sugar, rose water, lemon supplemented with various spices and laid between the oiled test sheets.

Baklava metallic casserole

–    Baklava is always baked in metallic low form and densely filled with dough. The already prepared baklava is poured with hot syrup, from this the taste of the dish changes, is thinned. Firm taste of baklava gives a filling, which for all variety of recipes, remains unchanged.

On the Balkans, Baklava is known as the queen of all pies

Candy shops that are selling only baklavas are called ‘Baklavdzinice’ and people can still find them in Turkey, Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but lately they are becoming popular in other parts of the Balkan as a touristic attraction.

Then the recipe was probably taken to Greece by Greek merchant. There people were already making –crusts thin as a leaf, and those replace the bread Assyrians used.  So the new baklava recipe was made.

The word ‘baklava’ appeared for the first time in Old Turkish language (in the form – baklagi or baklagu, but its ultimate origin is uncertain) and this name that we are using today, or a similar name, took the Persians, Arabs, all Balkans and neighboring nations, many others around the world.

When it comes to making this treat, of course, there is no unique recipe; there are only a number of regional variations. Hence to this many baklavas get their names by the cities and countries they are made in – Turkish, Greek, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar, and events like wedding (baklava)… and others.

However in addition to its taste baklava attracts people with beautiful appearance too. Baked, unusually cut, shiny on the surface, with lemons or pistachio on top sometimes made so that every piece is only one little bite – no one can resist it.

In Turkey, it is very common that people take baklavas as a gift to friends in a sign of respect. And it is well known that everyone has a secret ingredient when making this desert. 😀

Modern recipes for baklava

The best thing regarding baklava is that you can be very creative, almost anything can be used for the filling nowadays. You can even invent a new sort of baklava. Today you can find baklavas with any filling you like – chocolate and walnut, hazelnuts, coconut, pistachio, prunes, raisins, figs, pistachio, all kind of nuts, dry cranberries…many other fruits and nuts.

But make sure that any taste you make, the most important is – that this desert has to be soft, with extremely sweet and very juicy symphony of taste.

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