The Baklava Guy
c/o Donald Vukovic
Boulder, Co 80308
Served at coffee shops throughout Boulder County.
There are few treats as satisfying as a cup of cappuccino with a piece of traditional baklava
The history of Baklava is as diverse as the number of ways it is prepared
and the number of countries that claim its origins. Is it generally
accepted that Baklava came to us from the Assyrians at around 8th century
B.C. Layering nuts with a simple unleavened flat bread and drenched
with honey. As only the wealthy of the time can afford this simple luxury,
baklava was held as a special dessert for those in high positions of
society such as monarchs and kings. In Turkey, to this day, one can
hear a common expression: "I am not rich enough to eat Baklava
The basic ingredients of Baklava are nuts, flat bread (phyllo) and syrup or honey. The type of nuts or the syrup ingredients often suggest the origin of the recipe. Syrup with rose water and cardamom would most likely be from the Arab countries. While syrup with cinnamon and cloves would most likely from the Balkan peninsula.
As there are many countries within close proximity of each other, Baklava spread to other areas and evolved with new techniques and fillings.
The Phyllo we know today also has a long and interesting history. Phyllo dough was not born in Greece, but rather in Istanbul during the Ottoman reign. But the Greeks can lay claim to creating the paper-thin version. It is well known that the Turks brought Baklava to Central Europe. A close relative to phyllo is strudel dough. Phyllo and strudel dough shares the same ingredients, wheat flour, water and fat (oil or butter). Both are rolled out, with phyllo being much thinner.
Until 1946 Phyllo was always made by hand. Pressing and stretching and
pressing and stretching for hours until a large dinning room table is
covered with paper thin dough. In 1946 Le Conie Stiles of Seattle, Washington,
invented the Phyllo-stretching machine. ( US Patent 2,627,825 ) Now anyone
can buy Phyllo to make all sorts of Phyllo filled items with sweet and
Most Americans know Baklava from Greek and Middle Eastern restraunts and delicatessens. There we have found that most are drippingly sweet with sugar and honey. After years of discussion with immigrants to America, I have found that this overly sweet version is made here in the US but not as often in other parts of the world.
I have found that the immigrants from the turn of last century (1900) Baklava was made as a very special treat. Making Phyllo by hand and filling the Phyllo with nuts from the harvest of their new homeland. Compared to the old country, nuts and honey were being nearly given away here in America. Filling their own special treats with more sugar and honey, was a sign of wealth in this new country. With the syrupy, sticky, sweet treat, family and friends would now know of the wealth these new Americas had come to enjoy.