Here is a baklava recipe (or baclava recipe) especially adapted for the Passover / Pesach festival. The following baklava recipe has several steps, but I have tried to simplify them by listing them in short steps as much as possible. A baklava recipe is one of several Middle-Eastern-style dessert recipes for the Passover / Pesach festival and it has a rich history as you will discover in the following paragraphs.

Baklava : What is it?

Baklava (also spelled: Baclava) is a popular sweet pastry in Middle Eastern Persian, Arab, Turkish, Greek, and Albanian cuisines. It consists of ground and finely chopped walnuts or pistachios between sheets of phyllo (or "filo") pastry, soaked in a sugary solution which is made mostly of sugar and may contain either lemon juice or honey and spices with rosewater, and is either cut into small squares or rolled and cut into circular slices. As with any food, there are regional variations in the recipe with the most common ones being the syrup recipe and whether or not it contains honey.

It is widely believed that the Anatolians in the 8th century B.C.E. created Baklava. The Greek seamen and merchants traveling east soon discovered the delights of Baklava. It awestruck their taste buds. They brought the recipe to Athens. The Greeks' major contribution to the development of this pastry is the creation of a dough technique that made it possible to roll it as thin as a leaf, compared to the rough, bread-like texture of the Anatolian dough. In fact, the name "Phyllo" was coined by Greeks, which means "leaf" in the Greek language. The word "Baklava" itself is ultimately derived from "Baklavi", which is Arabic for "nuts".

Baklava is a complex, layered dessert made with paper thin sheets of phyllo (also spelled "filo" or "fillo") dough that have been buttered and layered in a rectangular baking dish, or layered and rolled into a log. Phyllo dough is used in thin layers to make pastries and originated in Mediterranean cuisine. For Baklava, walnuts or pistachios are used most often sometimes with a combination of almonds, and pecans. Ground nuts and a little sugar and cinnamon are also used for variation. In Lebanese cuisine, Baklava is traditionally cut into diamonds. Another variation is cutting Baklava into squares.

For the Passover festival, however, phyllo leaves are prohibited for all Jews, so the following recipe for Passover Baklava substitutes matzo for phyllo leaves.

Matzoh Baklava Recipe

8 pieces matzoh
2 1/4 cups each almonds and walnuts, finely chopped (at least 30 seconds in a food processor)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter or pareve margarine, melted

For the syrup:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
3 slices lemon
3 slices orange
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional, for Passover)

Instructions for the Matzoh Baklava recipe:

To prepare matzoh:

  1. Soften the matzoh by running under cool tap water, then dry between 2 paper towel sheets until matzoh is al dente (about an hour). Note: "al dente" is an Italian cooking term meaning "firm to the tooth". This means that you want the matzoh to feel firm and slightly resistant (almost springy) when you bite it, but not at all hard or brittle. If it sticks to your teeth when you chew it, it's not ready. Essentially, it means that the matzoh is fully cooked, but not overly soft; tender, but still firm to bite.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine chopped almonds, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  3. Place prepared matzoh on cutting board and roll out each piece with a rolling pin as flat as possible without tearing. (It's OK if some tearing occurs, because once it is cooked, no one can tell the difference).
  4. Trim all 4 sides as close to the edges as possible.
  5. Brush the bottom of 9-inch-by-5-inch-by-2-inch pan (22.86-centimeter-by-12.70-centimeter-by-5.08-centimeter pan) with some of the melted butter or margarine.
  6. Lay 2 pieces of matzoh in the pan, making sure the grain of each piece is placed in the same direction. Brush with butter.
  7. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups of nut mixture on top of the buttered matzoh. Repeat, alternating 2 pieces of matzoh brushed with butter with 1 1/2 cups nut mixture, ending with 2 pieces of matzoh brushed with butter on top.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut through all the layers, making 18 squares (3 horizontal, 6 vertical), or cut diagonally for diamond-shaped pieces.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius or Centigrade) oven for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Let baklava cool completely while you prepare the syrup.

For the syrup:

  1. In medium-size saucepan, stir together all ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce heat.
  2. Simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove cinnamon and slices of orange and lemon.
  4. Immediately, while hot, spoon entire honey mixture over top and through cracks of cooled baklava in the pan.
  5. Cool completely, then serve.

Yield: 18 pieces of matzoh baklava.

Share/Save/Bookmark          Subscribe