Sophia’s Baklava

Labor Day celebration cookout turns Greek….

After we consumed Michael’s bbq ribs, the potato salad, and the baked beans, we began discussing baklava.  Sophia’s Greek heritage, her baking knowledge, and her Greek cookbook led the way to the kitchen.

I randomly chose a page in the cookbook – this translates to Dessert!

 Greek cooking and baking; a well-worn, much-used cookbook from Sophia’s library

 a very special personalized cookbook

 the basic Baklava recipe; Sophia tweaked the recipe

Sophia – our mentor

 Greek honey…thick….rich…delicious

Sophia and Val …

 …utensils in hand

 tasting the Greek honey


 lemon zest to add to the sugar syrup

 Sophia buttering the phyllo

 Sophia’s method of adding the nut mixture to the phyllo sheets

 rolling the phyllo sheets to encase the nut mixture

 pressing the layers together

Val reading the recipe

 Sophia’s smile

each log brushed again with butter, then sliced with serrated knife through top layer at 3-finger widths 

 another brush of butter after the slits

 a splash of tap water

and into the 325 degree oven until golden brown

 adding the Greek honey to the sugar/water/lemon zest syrup

 the thick rich Greek honey slides slowly from the spoon into the syrup

syrup ready to pour over baked phyllo/nut rolls

 just out of the oven

 three cooks in the kitchen

adding cooled syrup to hot phyllo/nut rolls (cool/hot is important per Sophia)

Queen Val and her tea (Sophia brewed a delicious, soothing Greek tea for us to sip while waiting for baking to complete)


Sophia’s Baklava

  • 3 cups nuts; mixture of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts (none were salted nor roasted)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or crumbled biscotti
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 t ground cloves (or to taste)
  • 1 package purchased phyllo dough, thawed 
  • 8 oz butter, melted
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup Greek honey
  1. Process first five ingredients in food processor until finely chopped; do not process into a powder nor paste (excess nut mixture may be frozen for later use)
  2. Melt butter in small pan; sit aside (you will need a small brush to slather the butter onto the phyllo dough sheets)
  3. In large pan, make syrup by combining 3 c. sugar and 2 c. water; boil for 10 minutes
  4. Add grated lemon zest and Greek honey to sugar water mixture; sit aside to cool while phyllo dough/nut rolls bake
  5. Spread melted butter on three individual sheets of phyllo dough, stacking one on top of the other after brushing with butter
  6. Fold buttered sheets in half, short sides meeting
  7. Generously add nut mixture to the edge of the stacked and folded buttered sheets and roll phyllo sheets around nut mixture; place in an un-greaed, unlined baking dish with 2″ sides (choose a dish that is large enough to hold all the syrup, which will be added after baking)
  8. Continue to make phyllo dough/nut rolls
  9. Brush top of rolls lightly with butter
  10. Sprinkle a few drops of water over rolls from fingertips held under running water
  11. Bake in 325 degree oven until golden brown, turning once during baking.  Baking time will vary but should be between 30 and 45 minutes.
  12. Syrup mixture should be cooling at this time; Sophia stresses the need to add room temperature syrup to the hot phyllo/nut rolls immediately after removing them from the over
  13. Once syrup is added, sit the dish aside and allow to cool completely at room temperature.  The syrup will soak into the rolls.
  14. The baklava will keep at room temperature for several days.
As you can see, we did not exactly follow the recipe in the book pictured above; thus, the recipe truly becomes “Sophia’s Baklava.”
Sophia is moving to another city.  I almost missed meeting her…but didn’t.  Years ago, there was another dear lady in my life that I ‘almost missed meeting….but didn’t.  She changed my life.   Meetings such as these are meant to be….


Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts

A google search revealed that pop tarts were introduced in 1963/1964 – I was in the first grade. I like pop tarts; they are addictive like Coke and peanuts, Moon Pie, and crunchy crust cornbread – all the things that were part of my childhood.

We didn’t have a toaster in our rural farm home; we ate our pop tarts ‘straight out of the box.’

All that to say, these pop tarts are not anything like the pop tarts of my youth.  These are buttery, and crunchy, and flaky and rich and filled with a brown sugar cinnamon goodness.

flecks of cinnamon and vanilla beans in the unbaked top pastry of the soon-to-be pop tart

 brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts baking; oozing of butter

 just out of the oven; beautiful golden brown around the edges

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts
(adapted from here)


  • 2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (vanilla sugar if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks / 8 oz) unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sweet milk
  • 1 additional egg used to brush bottom pastry prior to addition of filling
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (for filling)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (for filling)
  • 4 teaspoons all purpose flour (for filling)
  1. Mix together flour, sugar, and salt (first three ingredients) in large bowl
  2. Add butter pieces and toss to cover with flour
  3. Using your fingertips, rub the cold butter into the flour, tossing the flour lightly while mixing (or your preferred method of combining butter and flour)
  4. Whisk together 1 egg and 2 T milk in small bowl.  Add to butter/flour mixture; gently combine
  5. Form pastry into a ball; divide pastry into two equal pieces
  6. Cover each pastry half with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (up to 2 days if necessary)
  7. Roll each pastry half into 9″ x 12″ rectangle; cut each into 9-3″ x 4″ pieces (18 total pieces)
  8. Place 9 – 3″x4″ rectangles on a baking sheet; brush entire surface with egg wash
  9. In a separate bowl, combine filling ingredients (brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour)
  10. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling ingredients in the center of each egg-washed pastry piece; leave 1/2″ border around filling (will allow top pastry to adhere to bottom pastry)
  11. Prick remaining 9 pastry pieces with fork; lay top pastry over brown sugar and press gently around edges
  12. Using a fork, flour the tines and gently press all around the edge of each brown sugar cinnamon pop tart to adhere the top to the bottom
  13. Refrigerate the prepared pop tarts for 30 minutes (freeze pop tarts at this point for later baking if desired); preheat oven to 350 degrees
  14. After refrigeration, bake pop tarts for 20-25 minutes; they will ooze of butter and become golden brown 
  15. Remove from oven and cool
  16. I glazed mine with a mixture of powdered sugar, milk, a tablespoon of honey, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and a pinch of cinnamon (mixed to a pourable consistency)