Intricate desserts are a Martha specialty, and this week on “Martha Bakes,” she’s got a doozy for you: the Greek classic baklava in a striking star shape. The diamond pattern is actually much easier to create than it looks—the trick is to use a very sharp knife and work with one section of the baklava at a time. Then all you have to do is make strategic cuts (no need to brush up on your high school geometry, we promise!). If you’re still not convinced, Martha’s got two more tempting Greek desserts in the oven: aromatic butter cookies called kourabiedes and twice-baked cookies known as paximadia, which are Greece’s answer to biscotti. Get a sneak peek at the recipes below, and be sure to tune in for the new episode.
Having all your ingredients prepped and organized is key when baking baklava—make sure your phyllo is defrosted, butter melted, and pastry brush ready. The stunning dessert that results is so worth effort. In some parts of Greece, baklava is the most important sweet at weddings and is actually taken to the church before the ceremony.
No Greek holiday feast would be complete without these snowball-like cookies made with almonds, honey, mastiha liqueur, and of course, plenty of powdered sugar. Use the best quality butter you can find to get that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Legend has it that in ancient Greece, a man named Paximos observed that toasted bread molded less quickly and lasted longer, giving rise to the birth of twice-baked breads, and later, the name paximadia for twice-baked cookies. Martha’s version calls for barley flour, sesame seeds, ouzo, and orange.
"Martha Bakes" season 9 airs on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).