Flaky, sticky, and sweet, this delectable baklava from baker Umber Ahmad of Mah-Ze-Dahr is studded with cloves to anchor the pastry layers and infuse them with warm flavor. Lemon is mixed into the traditional honey syrup for a deliciously fresh twist.

Martha Stewart Living, April 2019


Credit: Mikkel Vang

Recipe Summary

50 mins
1 hr 50 mins
Makes about 30




Instructions Checklist
  • Syrup

    : In a small saucepan, stir together sugar, honey, 3/4 cup water, zest and juice, corn syrup, and cinnamon sticks. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and cook, without stirring, until syrup thickens slightly and registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Let cool completely; discard zest and cinnamon sticks. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups.) Syrup can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.

  • Filling

    : Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, finely grind all nuts. Add sugar, cinnamon, and salt; pulse just to combine. Transfer to a bowl.

  • Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter. Trim phyllo sheets to just fit inside baking dish(each about 8 1/2 by 12 1/2 inches). Lay phyllo flat on a work surface; cover with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying out. Place a sheet in prepared dish; brush generously with melted butter. Repeat with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter before laying down next. Spread 1 cup filling evenly over top, then top with 5 more phyllo sheets, buttering each layer. Spread 1 cup fillingover top, followed by 5 morebuttered phyllo sheets. Spreadremaining filling over phyllo; finishwith 7 buttered phyllo sheets.

  • Using a long, sharp knife, cut lengthwise all the way through layers at 2-inch intervals. Makediagonal cuts across strips to form 2-inch diamonds, again cutting all the way through layers. Pierce each diamond with a whole clove.

  • Using your fingers, lightly sprinkle top of pastry with cold water (to prevent curling). Bake, rotating dish once, until baklava is deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and recut through all lines. Pour syrup over top, saturating fully; let cool at least 4 hours beforeserving. Baklava can be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature up to 1 week.

Cook's Notes

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can use a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature of the syrup.