Baklava is a beloved dessert enjoyed by people all over the world, with roots tracing back to ancient civilizations in the Middle East. It is a pastry made of layers of thin phyllo dough filled with a variety of chopped nuts, such as pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, and sweetened with a syrup or honey. While baklava can be found in many different countries and regions, it is believed to have originated in the city of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey, and it is there that the best baklava can be found.
The art of baklava-making is a time-honored tradition in Gaziantep, and the city is known for its particularly delicious and authentic version of the dessert. One of the key factors that sets Gaziantep baklava apart is the phyllo dough, which is carefully crafted to be extremely thin and flaky. The dough is layered with the nut filling, with each layer carefully separated by a thin layer of clarified butter or vegetable oil. This helps to create the signature flakiness and tenderness of the pastry.
The filling of the baklava is another important factor in its flavor and texture. In Gaziantep, the traditional filling is made with finely chopped pistachios, which are known for their rich and nutty flavor. The nuts are mixed with a small amount of sugar and spices, such as cinnamon or cardamom, to create a fragrant and flavorful filling.
The syrup that is used to sweeten the baklava is also an important part of the recipe. In Gaziantep, the syrup is traditionally made with sugar, water, and a hint of lemon juice, which adds a slight tanginess to the sweetness of the syrup. The syrup is poured over the baked baklava, allowing it to soak into the layers and infuse the pastry with its flavor.
There are many different variations of baklava found throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean, each with its own unique twist on the traditional recipe. In Greece, for example, baklava is often made with a filling of chopped walnuts and sweetened with a syrup made with honey, while in Lebanon, it is common to use a mixture of nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and hazelnuts in the filling.
Despite these variations, the baklava from Gaziantep is considered by many to be the best and most authentic version of the dessert. Its delicate layers of phyllo, rich and fragrant filling, and perfectly balanced syrup make it a true culinary masterpiece. If you have the opportunity to try baklava from Gaziantep, be sure to savor every bite and appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into its creation.