On the Road in Greece: In Search of Baklava

Baklava, Akrogiali style

by Professor Catherine Tsounis, Contributing Editor

 

I went in search of the perfect Baklava in the summer of 2018.  In 2003, I tasted a phenomenal dessert, full of large walnuts in Kos City at a restaurant on Cleopatra Street.  I have never since tasted a baklava in a café in the US or Greece until 2018.

Akrogiali is a café in the town of Apollon on the island of Naxos. The Café is on the water with a spectacular beach view. The hospitality is the best among all the beachside restaurants and cafes. A pleasant, young waiter greeted me with a smile. “I am Agapitos Andris. My father, Lefteris owns the café. How can I serve you?” he said. “My Mother, Eliza, made a baklava fresh from the oven.”

Eliza, the gourmet chef, came to meet me, explaining her exceptional recipe. “This is a family recipe. My grandmother Kiriaki made this Baklava recipe with Naxos butter and eggs. This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation.” The key to the recipe is doubling the walnut filling, using the best honey. A walnut-rich Baklava with a coffee frappe, overlooking the Mediterranean sea was one of my best island experiences. Our guide, Evy, of Naxos Tours, showed us the Naxos soul. The following recipe is similar to Eliza’s. Add a thicker layer of walnuts.

Persons interested in creating a Baklava recipe can follow this internet condensed recipe in our system of pounds.

  1. 16 oz phyllo dough.
  2. 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, melted.
  3. 1 lb. walnuts finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp cinnamon.
  5. Dash of cloves
  6. 1 cup granulated sugar.
  7. 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  8. 3/4 cup water.
  9. 1/2 cup honey.

 

Lightly grease a 9×13 pan and set the oven to 350°F. Combine chopped walnuts with sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of cloves. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.  Brush 8 sheets of phyllo sheet with melted butter. Add a thin layer of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter. Continue to repeat the nut mixture and two buttered sheets of phyllo until the nut mixture is all used up.  Cut into 24 equal sized squares using a sharp knife. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and edges appear slightly crisp. While baking, make the syrup of a cinnamon stick, sugar, lemon juice, honey, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and let simmer for 7 minutes and slightly thickened, allow to cool.  Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. 1

 

 

All photos by Agapitos Andris

References:

  1. https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/baklava/

Links:

Naxos private guide: Evi Psarra, [email protected]

Apollo photographer: Agapitos Andris, https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=agapitos%20andris