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Shared by Viviane Bowell


Yield: 40 pieces

Shared by Viviane Bowell

Dish of baklava.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.


Yield: 40 pieces

Family Journey

Aleppo, SyriaCairo, EgyptLondon
Bristol, England and Toledo, SpainConstantinople (present-day Istanbul)Cairo, Egypt
LondonBristol, England

This walnut baklava recipe comes from Viviane Bowell and her cookbook “A Culinary legacy: Recipes from a Sephardi Egyptian kitchen.” Growing up in Cairo, Viviane remembers baklava being served at special occasions like a bris or a bar mitzvah. Her mother would also set it out as part of a spread for guests along with Turkish coffee, menenas, candied orange segments, and quince jam.

Made across the Middle East, baklava can be prepared with various different nut fillings, but pistachios and walnuts are particularly popular. If you prefer, you can also add or swap in almonds or hazelnuts. Since the nuts will be chopped up, don't worry too much about their appearance, but be sure they are fresh and good quality. Phyllo dough is labeled with numbers that denote the thickness of the dough. Look for #4 for this recipe. 

Read more about Viviane in “The Jam Fridge of Cairo” and try her recipe for molokhia, a garlic-y stew made with greens.


For the filling

  • 1 lb walnuts, almonds and/or hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar

For the pastry

  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 lb filo pastry

For the syrup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
Baking ProjectsDessertsVegetarianNorth Africa


  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  • Step 2

    In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the oil over a low heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Step 3

    Prepare the filling: Place the nuts and sugar in a food processor and pulse until you have a medium-fine mixture. Place the nut mixture into a bowl and add about 4 tablespoons of the melted butter and oil. Mix well and set aside.

  • Step 4

    Assemble the baklava: Grease a 12 inch baking dish or tin. Fit half the pastry sheets in the dish, one at a time, brushing each generously with the butter and oil mixture. Ease the filo pastry into the corners, folding and overlapping as required and trimming the edges if necessary. Be sure to work with one sheet at a time while keeping the rest covered in a clean damp towel, as filo pastry dries very quickly. Spread the nut mixture evenly over the sheets. Cover with the remaining sheets of filo, one at a time, brushing each, including the top, with the melted butter and oil mixture.

  • Step 5

    With a sharp knife, starting from the bottom left corner of the pan, cut about 9 parallel lines through all the layers to the bottom of the pan. Starting from the bottom right corner of the pan, cut 9 more parallel lines to create small diamond shapes.

  • Step 6

    Place the baklava in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes until the top is golden.

  • Step 7

    Prepare the syrup: Simmer the sugar and water with the lemon juice for 10 minutes, then add the orange blossom water. Let it cool completely in the refrigerator.

  • Step 8

    Remove the baklava from the oven and allow cool for 5 minutes. Carefully pour the cooled syrup over the entirety of the pan. The pastry will sizzle and crisp up. Some people like to put the pastry back in the oven for a further 5 minutes at the same heat.

  • Step 9

    Serve at room temperature.