A diamond-shaped piece of Middle Eastern pastry.
A lovely piece of baklava.

Authentic Middle Eastern Baklava

By Ala’a Deen Cuisine
First published April 18, 2019

Baklava can be found in modern day Jerusalem among many other places–now you can make it at home. This recipe comes to Holland Weekly from a cottage-industry-in-the-making called Ala’a Deen Cuisine in the Zeeland area. We are very lucky to have this private recipe shared with us today. Thank you, Ala’a Deen!


One package Philo dough.

40 oz. walnuts, or pistachio

2 sticks of butter or one cup of ghee, melted but not hot.

Quarter cup sugar.

One tablespoon grounded cinnamon.

2 cups sugar.

Half lemon.

1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water.


2 hours before you make the baklava, make the syrup. Put 2 cups of sugar in a sauce pan on stove then add one cup of water, bring to boil. As soon as the sugar melts add juice of the lemon. When you see foam come out, remove the white foam with a spoon. When the syrup gets the consistency of syrup, remove pan from the stove then add the orange blossom or the rose water, and stir. Leave the syrup to cool down. (The secret for crispy Baklava is that one of these 2 has to be cold and the other one very hot. If the syrup is cold, the baklava has to be hot. If the baklava is cold, the syrup has to be hot.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

  1. Put the walnuts in a food processor with the quarter cup of sugar and the cinnamon and pulse. The walnuts should not be grounded very fine; they have to be small chunks. Leave them in a bowl.
  2. Unwrap the philo dough and cover it with a towel. (The philo sheet dough must be covered always, otherwise the dough sheets will get dry.)
  3. Brush baking sheet (pan) with melted butter.
  4. Uncover the philo dough and take one sheet of dough and put it in the baking pan, then cover the rest of the sheets of dough with the towel.
  5. Brush the sheet dough in the pan with the melted butter.
  6. Uncover the philo dough and take one sheet and put it on the first sheet in the pan. Cover the rest of the sheet dough.
  7. Brush the second sheet dough with melted butter.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 and 7 till the sheets will be 7 sheets in the baking pan.
  9. Add half of the walnuts mixture on the philo sheet in the baking pan and level it with a spatula.
  10. Repeat steps 5 and 6 and 7 (twice).
  11. Add the other half of the walnut mixture to the sheet dough.
  12. Repeat steps 5 and 6 and 7 with the rest of the philo sheet dough, the upper sheet over the second walnuts mixture has to be 8 or 10 sheets.
  13. Brush the last sheet with the butter.
  14. Put the baking pan in the fridge or if it’s cold you can leave it on the table until the butter gets cold. This way it will be easy for you to cut the baklava.
  15. Cut the baklava with a sharp knife, square shape or diamond shape.
  16. Put it in the preheated oven at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until it gets brown color on the edges. You can flip the pan after half an hour of the baking.  
  17. After it is done, turn the oven to broil for 2 minutes. Do not leave the oven. Stay near it. As soon as the baklava gets golden in color, take it out of the oven.
  18. Put the pan on a rack, then pour the cold sugar syrup on the baklava, carefully moving the pan left and right so the syrup will get into each piece of baklava.

Enjoy it.