Monday, November 9, 2009

The Making of the Baklava

Thanks to Mom's legacy, Thanksgiving is the start of a build up of anticipation and excitement for our whole family. She always made sure that the Christmas season was one big non-stop family event. From Thanksgiving through New Years Day, we had a sense of expectancy and excitement. There was the decorating of the house, cooking and baking, parties and dressing up, all of which she established traditions for.  We loved and looked forward to these celebrations every year as the holidays approached. Now, these many years later, when the holidays arrive, there is a feeling that I get deep inside of me that is warm, inviting and familiar. Just like when I was a child, it starts at Thanksgiving and keeps building until the New Years holiday is over.

One of our most favorite traditions was the making (and eating, of course) of baklava. Baklava is a Greek pastry that, when made correctly, is to die for! Mom got the recipe from an old Greek woman who didn’t have the ingredients or amounts written down. It was from memory that she carried out this most beloved tradition.

Dad would sit for hours and slice pecans as thinly as he could get them. He wouldn’t hear of using a processor to cut them, (they had to be sliced just right). We would sit and watch as my parents gently laid the delicate layers of phyllo dough, brushed with melted butter, pecans, honey, sugar and cinnamon. Layer after layer, they built their masterpiece while the stereo played all of our favorite Christmas albums. As a child, this process seemed to go on and on for hours. After the baklava came out of the oven, Mom wrapped the hot pan in towels and let it sit. (I never asked her why she did this). Then we had to wait for what seemed like forever, to get our first bite.

For every party that we attended, Mom would load up a plate of baklava and take it with us as a hostess gift. It was always a favorite and our friends looked forward to it almost as much as we did. I hope that you enjoy this recipe. I am giving it from memory, just as Mom did. You can vary the ingredients to make it to your liking. I hope that your holidays are filled with memories and traditions that take you back to a magical time when life was sweet!

This is a time to reflect on the traditions of the past and the new ones to be made.  Surround yourselves with those who you love most, in this world!  And remember to enjoy family and friends and to make precious memories!


2 lbs sliced pecans
2 lbs of melted butter (separated, use only clear)
1½ lbs honey
2 lbs phyllo leaves
2 C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp powdered cloves

Directions: You need a 9X15 2in deep enamel roast pan

Mix dry ingredients
Butter bottom and sides of pan; Layer phyllo dough and brush melted butter for 8 layers.
Layer phyllo, melted butter, and dry ingredients until 8 sheets of phyllo are left.
Layer phyllo dough and brush melted butter for 8 layers. Cut into 2 inch diamonds (on the diagonal).

Heat honey to boiling and pour over baklava.
Bake at 400° until brown and crisp.

Cover baklava with towels and let sit for 24 hours and serve

From His Lap


  1. This lovely post made me feel as if I, too, was sitting in your parents. It was lovely. Thanks for sharing the story and the amazing recipe-can't wait to try it.


  2. Erin - wow!! That sounds super hard. I don't know if we do this kind of thing in this day and age.

    Love the story, recipe, and YOU!


  3. I've read your lovely story about your mum and Thanksgiving, Erin. Will also be trying your recipe for baklava. :)

  4. Erin,
    Thank you for sharing this memory, tradition and recipe which I sent to my Mother who loves to cook and try new recipes. With some luck, I could be enjoying home made baklava from your Mothers recipe, for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    Thank you,

  5. What a beautiful post. I've never made baklava.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe with us.

  6. Oh Erin, I am so touched. What a beautiful blog. So many insightful thoughts and memories of your family, faith and life. The story of your Mom made me cry, as I too lost my Mom (in 2002, she was 67). One is never prepared for such a loss. It leaves such a void. Definitely changes your perspective of almost everything. But God always has a purpose...Teaching us to trust and wait on Him is a HUGE lesson. So very worth it in the end. :)
    You are familiar to me from high school, but I didn't know you. Yet, as my sister in Christ I feel a bond to you which can only come by His Spirit. Nuggets of Truth is a wonderful blessing.
    Thank you for sharing, Erin. :)

  7. Erin, I took down your baklava recipe and I'll try to make it this holiday season. An old friend told me this once and it reminds me of your blog: "No God, No peace. Know God, know peace." Thank you for sharing. Michele

  8. This looks amazingly delicious! Love it :-)

  9. Okay I've never had baklava, but I'm very curious about it. I think if I can find the ingredients I might give it a try. I love the way you tell the story of your mom building up do much excitement through the holidays. I'm just like that too. This year I haven't cranked up my christmas meter as much as I have in years past, only because I've been crazy busy with finishing my book. But this post was actually a gentle reminder that other things in my life are important too. I need to avoid being fully consumed in it.

  10. Amberr,
    I can't even describe to you how delicious it is!!!
    Love ya!

  11. Rosann,
    You should try the recipe. It's time consuming but so worth it. I can't wait until your book comes out!!!
    Love you!

  12. What a precious memory. Thanks for sharing it and the secret family recipe! :)

  13. Shannon,
    It's one of my most favorite childhood memories!!


Thank you for giving us a little nugget of truth from your heart!


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