Orange Blossom Date and Nut Baklava

by Meeta Wolff

This chapter is a free excerpt from What's For Lunch, Honey?.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Brush a 17 x 28 cm baking tray with some of the butter.
  1. Spread 8 sheets of filo pastry, one at a time, into the tray, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next.
  1. In a clean bowl, mix together the nuts, dates, sugar , and spices, then spread half the mixture over the pastry in the tray.
  1. Layer 4 more sheets of phyllo, making sure to brush each individual sheet with butter. Spread the remaining half of the nut-date mixture.
  1. Top with the remaining sheets of phyllo, making sure to brush the top layer with butter as well. Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern into the top layers of the pastry.
  1. Bake the  baklava in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 150ºC (300ºF) and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden on top. Keep an eye on the pastry, making sure the top does not burn. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  1. In the meantime make the syrup by heating the sugar, water, orange blossom water and the orange peel in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has melted and the liquid has reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency. This will take approx. 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  1. Pour the syrup into the slits in the baklava and leave to cool completely. Cut into small diamond-shaped pieces and serve.

Helpful Notes:

  • Once you have unwrapped the sheets of phyllo be sure to keep under a damp tea-towel until you are ready to use. The sheets dry up extremely quickly and become hard to handle when dry.
  • The syrup can be made 3-4 days in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
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