“P” is for Paklava

My first blog post – yipee! This has been long time overdue. I’m so glad I finally got up to speed and joined 2013!

I have hundreds of recipes and ideas that I have been creating and collecting over the years, and I can’t wait to share them with you all. But I wanted my first post to be extra special. It didn’t take me long to decide that Paklava deserved the honor of being my inaugural entry on Floating Kitchen.

Yes, I wrote Paklava with a “P”. It is not a typo. I did not mean to write Baklava. Paklava is the spelling/pronunciation used by many Armenian families, including my own. And today I want to bring you the traditional Armenian Paklava that I grew up making and eating. For Armenians, Paklava is a staple that adorns almost every family gathering and holiday. It looks intimidating and complicated – all those flaky, buttery, nutty, sweet layers. But it’s really quite simple once you get the technique down. And it actually requires very few ingredients. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

My Great Uncle Vosken always said that my mom made the best Paklava in the whole family. This is the recipe that I learned from her many years ago (thanks Mom!).



“P” is for Paklava

Makes one 9 X 13 pan

“P” is for Paklava


  • For the Paklava
  • 1 lb walnuts (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 lb phyllo dough, thawed (follow the directions on the package to thaw)
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (20 tablespoons)
  • For the Simple Syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Cinnamon stick


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out a 9 X 13 baking pan (glass or ceramic) and set aside. Also get out a pastry brush with natural bristles (i.e. not a silicone pastry brush, it is too rough and will tear the phyllo dough).
  2. In a food processor, finely chop the walnuts. Add in the granulated sugar and spices and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter and set aside.
  4. Open and unroll your package of phyllo dough. Now don’t dilly-dally through the next steps or your phyllo dough will dry out and become impossible to work with.
  5. Using your pastry brush, lightly brush the baking pan with the melted butter. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan, brushing with melted butter, and folding to make the entire sheet fit. Repeat this with 4 more sheets of phyllo dough, always buttering the layers. Sprinkle on ~1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture (should be ~1 cup) and spread evenly.
  6. Now repeat that process 3 more times, but this time only using 3 sheets of phyllo dough for each layer. So that would be: 3 sheets of phyllo dough (always buttering in between each sheet!), 1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture, 3 sheets of phyllo dough, 1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture, 3 sheets of phyllo dough, 1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture. At this point, if you have any leftover ground nut/spice mixture, you can just add it in with this last layer and spread evenly.
  7. To make the top, layer 4 sheets of phyllo dough, always buttering the layers. Using a very sharp knife, make vertical cuts through the Paklava. I usually make 3 vertical cuts (so you end up with 4 rows total). Then cut diagonally across the pan to make diamond shapes. If you have any butter left over, pour it between the cut marks.
  8. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes. You want the Paklava to be a light golden color – not too dark. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  9. While the Paklava is baking, make your simple syrup. Combine all ingredients in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and strain.
  10. Pour the simple syrup between the cut marks of the Paklava. I don’t usually use the entire batch of simple syrup for this. I find using ~2/3 of the simple syrup recipe gives about the right sweetness level to the Paklava (you can save the rest in the refrigerator for ~1 week for another use).
  11. Allow the Paklava to sit in the baking pan for 1-2 hours to give the simple syrup time to soak up into the layers. When ready to serve, you can transfer individual diamonds to doilies or cupcake liners and arrange on a serving platter. Enjoy Paklava at room temperature.


1. Different ethnicities use different combinations of nuts (almonds, pistachios) and spices (cardamom). Feel free to play around to suit your tastes.

2. Phyllo dough dries out very quickly. Once this happens it will start cracking and falling apart and generally be a mess to handle. Make sure everything is prepared and your work station is ready to go before you open that package! One trick: about half way through making the layers “flip” your stack of phyllo dough to ensure you have some good middle of the package sheets (which tend to stay more moist and intact) for the final top layer, which is the most visually important.

3. I alternate which direction I lay the phyllo dough so the “fold” alternates between being at either the top or the bottom of the long edge of the baking pan. This way, one edge doesn’t get too bulky.

4. I find cutting the Paklava to be the hardest part of this whole process. If some of the layers gets a bit messed up, I can usually gently coaxed them back into place with my buttered pastry brush or finger. Also, once the Paklava is cooked and cooled, I run my knife through again to make sure everything was cut all the way through to the bottom. Not all the pieces will come out as perfect diamonds. This is frustrating for perfectionists like myself. But those are the pieces I usually just keep at home to eat for myself – so no real loss there!

5. Once the Paklava is baked and cooled, you have two options. (1) Paklava can be covered and stored “dry” at room temperature for several days. This is my preferred method for storage if you aren’t going to be serving the Paklava right away. This give you the option to make your Paklava well in advance. Or (2) the simple syrup can be added. Once you add the simple syrup you must store the Paklava in the refrigerator and ideally it should be served within 1-2 days. It will still be delicious for several days after this, but it starts to get a bit soft. I prefer to add the simple syrup to the Paklava the day I will be serving it.


33 comments on ““P” is for Paklava”

  1. YES! I constantly have to explain that there is a difference between Paklava and Baklava. I grew up on it at time when Grandma made the dough from scratch. I can still visualize her rolling it with a broom stick and throwing it over her arms to stretch it. I use twice as many walnuts as pecans, leave out the cloves, and add vanilla and cinnamon powder to the syrup instead of lemon. Tiny differences so I still consider it traditional! I do sent it through the mail as Christmas gifts and it seems to hold up well. At least no one has complained all the years I have been sending it off.

    • That’s great Linda! I’ve never thought to mail Paklava before. Maybe I’ll try it! And I can’t even imagine how labor intensive it would be to make homemade phyllo dough. Glad we have the convenience of the packaged stuff!

  2. I was thrilled to see the word Paklava instead of baklava…. and yes, I also grew up eating this wonderful pastry. Most recipes say pour syrup over the pastry, however, it is too sweet for my taste, putting syrup between the cut pastry edges works just fine as you suggested. Thanks again for putting your recipe on the net and using the Armenian spelling … PAKLAVA, …

  3. I purposefully Googled Paklav looking strictly for an Armenia version! I do alter the syrup recipe. Thanks for posting.

    • So glad you found me!

    • Our book club is reading “”The Sand Castle Girls” written by Chris Bohjalian. The story takes place during the horrific (unknown) Armenian genocide. He mentions Paklava numerous times and I am attempting to make it for our next meeting. Glad to have found you.

      • That’s great! I haven’t read that book, but I’d love too. I’m going to look for it!

  4. Before cutting the “P”aklava put in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour – I use a sharp serrated pointed knife and cut – easy as pie – I mean paklava

  5. Hi Liz,

    After experiencing Paklava for the first time at an Armenian food festival in Hartford, CT, I’ve been wishing for someone to show me how to make it. But then I realized that I could probably learn from the internet. After reading about 10 recipes, I decided on yours with the addition of almond extract to the simple syrup. I was delighted when it came out near perfect and my Armenian wife told me it was just as good as grandma’s! Thanks for sharing your family recipe. It has revived a tradition! Next we are traveling to Turkey to see her ancestral homeland. I can’t wait to try the food. Happy holidays.

    • Oh my gosh! This is so great! I’m delighted to hear that it came out so well AND so authentic tasting! That’s wonderful. Happy holiday to you as well and I hope you have a wonderful trip to Turkey. And of course, get to eat lots of wonderful food!

  6. Only ever heard of the “B” word (which I have never seen or eaten) until watching BBC BEST BAKERY 2012 and the had Paklava. When I looked it up I found this difference in spelling is a difference in country.

    Anyway I have swiped your recipe and have every intention of making and trying this finally!!!

  7. My Armenian roots have been disappearing quickly in my family. My dad came from a large family and it seems as if no one is living anymore, sadly. So I am on a mission to bring back some Armenian food at family gatherings. I can’t wait to surprise them with this delicious recipe.

    • Thank you so much for this amazing comment, Kelley! It totally made my day. And I can totally relate. My Armenian relatives are also disappearing. But I don’t want all the wonderful traditions and memories to disappear too. So I’m trying to keep things alive the best way that I can – in the kitchen!

  8. I really hate explaining the difference of paklava and baklava lol and why I make it with walnuts and not pistachios, also why I use simple syrup and not honey. Reading this makes me feel less crazy bc as a child my family would tell me the differences, but it seemed like only my family knew there was a difference and not the rest of society. Thanks for this, the simple syrup is always the hardest to judge, I have found letting it rest for a while before adding it so it doesn’t get too gooey at the bottom and soaks it up right.

    • Thanks, Jillian! Yup, there are totally other people out there who know the differences between paklava and baklava! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  9. Thank you for acknowledging the difference from Baklava. I made some PAKLAVA for a work party today and everyone was very interested in it’s origin (I put out a sign much like the opening to your blog “Yes, I spelled it with a “P””… All was great until the Greek woman with a bad attitude came up, told me I misspelled HER county’s dish and made it “wrong” having used simple syrup, not honey. By then, I had several people hovering, waiting for more who schooled her on the difference. 🙂

  10. Thank you for posting this. My Armenian family’s recipe is very similar, almost exact. I don’t always add the syrup – sometimes we just eat it dry – it’s less sweet and oh so yummy. Another note, whether syruped or dry – it freezes really well. I take over half of the pieces, once cooled for at least an hour, and put them in the freezer. When I want a piece or a few pieces, I take them out of the freezer and let them sit for at least 10 minutes – and consume! It holds its crispy layers just fine. I’m not sure how long it could stay in the freezer until freezer burn sets in – but I’ve had mine in for about 2 weeks now and it still tastes fresh.

  11. Best brand of phyllo dough?

  12. Is there a reason not to use honey in the syrup?

  13. Abres! to all my fellow Armenians and friends of Armenian cuisine. They say foods brings people together and I am so happy that this wonderful recipe for paklava has done this.

    Keep writing ur recipes so that we can all enjoy them.

  14. Darned right it starts with a “p”!! What a great first post to choose. Brought back memories of me making paklava in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. It was always easier and more fun to make filo desserts with a second (or third) person.

    • Thanks, Kim! I have so many wonderful memories of making and eating this is my family, too. I think it’s time to re-vamp the photos on this recipe! 🙂

  15. So excited to find this post (six years after you first posted it lol) I am taking my tray of paklava to the church picnic today (St Gregory’s I’m North Andover) and since you live near by please stop by – I’m at the pastry table with my red headed Armenian daughter. I need to find the measurements for the shakar chor (syrup) so that’s how I found you. Believe me, I will be making some of your delicious recipes – I just signed up for emails. Yay!! 😉

  16. Thank you, I am making paklava and am confused as to whether the simple syrup should be warm when poured over the cooled paklava or can it be room temperature.  I am making a day ahead.  I plan on storing the paklava dry and then pouring the simple syrup on an hour before serving but should it be warm?
    Thank you,
    Joy Aaronian Pappas

    • It can be slightly warm or at room temperature. Sometimes it can get thick as it cools, so you might find it easier to pour between the cracks when it’s warm.

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