← Back to Search Results
baking Jewish, Middle Eastern, Syria
Layered Phyllo Dough with Pistachios and Rose Water Syrup Recipe-7792

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Comments: 0



One of the best known of Syrian pastries, ba’lawa (better known as baklava; the Syrian pronunciation omits the k sound) has suffered at the hands of many a poor baker. As a kid, my mother recalls skimming off the crunchy tops and leaving the nuts in the middle for the adults to eat. “You knew that was true love when my grandmother Esther let me get away with that!” When you taste the light, crisp dough and sweet pistachio filling, you’ll understand the fame that ba’lawa rightfully deserves. A pastry brush makes it much easier to put this pastry together. Because the Rose Water Syrup should be ice-cold when served over Syrian pastries, it must be prepared five to six hours ahead of time or the night before to allow enough time to chill in the refrigerator.

Yield: Serves 20 to 25 (3½ to 4 dozen pastries)


  • 3 cups shelled pistachios (for a “poor man’s” version, you may replace the pistachios with walnuts, which are much cheaper), finely ground (use a food processor or blender)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rose water
  • 2¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
  • 1 to 1½ cups cold Rose Water Syrup


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the nuts, sugar, rose water, cinnamon, and 3 tablespoons of the melted butter in a medium-size bowl. Set aside.

3. Unroll the phyllo dough onto a countertop and gently smooth out with dry hands. With a kitchen scissors or very sharp knife, cut the phyllo in half widthwise—along the short end-and separate the dough, leaving it in two equal parts.

4. Take two sheets of phyllo dough and spread over the bottom of a well-greased 13 × 9 × 2-inch baking pan. Cover the remaining phyllo with a slightly damp towel (and keep it covered at all times or it will dry out and crack). Using a pastry brush, cover the entire surface of phyllo in the pan with melted butter, and continue to layer and butter every two sheets until half of the phyllo is used.

5. Distribute the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo, pressing down gently by hand.

6. Use the remaining phyllo to create the top layer of ba’lawa, working in the exact fashion as in step 4. (As you are working, reserve and set aside one perfect sheet, without holes or tears, for the top sheet.) Brush the top sheet generously with melted butter.

7. Using a sharp knife, cut the pan of ba’lawa lengthwise at 1½-inch intervals into equal strips. Then, starting 1 inch from the upper left hand corner, cut diagonally through the entire pastry in 1-inch intervals to the lower right hand corner.

8. Bake until the top of the phyllo is golden brown and crispy, 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Take out of the oven and drizzle the cold syrup over the top of the entire ba’lawa. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and allow the syrup to soak in for 5 to 6 hours. (Don’t seal it, or it will get soggy.) Serve at room temperature. These will keep, refrigerated, for 5 to 7 days.

© 2002 Jennifer Felicia Abadi

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

This recipe serves 25. Nutritional information does not include Rose Water Syrup. For nutritional information on Rose Water Syrup, please follow the link above.

207kcal (10%)
22mg (2%)
1mg (1%)
58mcg RAE (2%)
17mg (6%)
89mg (4%)
5g (26%)
14g (22%)
1mg (7%)

Would you like to leave a comment about this recipe?

Notify me of new comments on this recipe. Add comment

We'd love to hear what you think!

Please or to add a comment to this recipe.
Free Activity Kit for Love Monster and the Last Chocolate!

Sign up for
The Cookstr Weekly

Free handpicked cookbook recipes delivered straight to your inbox

Explore Cookbooks on Cookstr

usa-cookbook U.S.A. Cookbook
by Sheila Lukins
fresh-from-the-market Fresh from the Market
by Laurent Tourondel
down-home-with-the-neelys-a-southern-family-cookbook Down Home with the Neelys: ...
by Gina Neely, Pat Neely
gluten-free-and-vegan-holidays Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays
by Jennifer Katzinger
daves-dinners-a-fresh-approach-to-home-cooked-meals Dave's Dinners: A Fresh App...
by Dave Lieberman
the-whole-beast-nose-to-tail-eating The Whole Beast: Nose to Ta...
by Fergus Henderson
mexican-everyday Mexican Everyday
by Rick Bayless
lucindas-authentic-jamaican-kitchen Lucinda's Authentic Jamaica...
by Lucinda Scala Quinn
lucid-food Lucid Food
by Louisa Shafia

Thanks for signing up!

You'll receive an activation email in your inbox shortly. Don't forget to click that link and activate your new Cookstr.com account!

Already a member? Sign in here

Sign up for Cookstr!

  • Receive a free, handpicked selection of recipes in your inbox weekly
  • Save, share and comment on your favorite recipes in My Cookstr
  • Get updates on new cookbooks, Cookstr features, and other exclusives we know you'll love
By signing up you accept the
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
New to Cookstr? Sign up here
Thanks for commenting!
Would you like to share your comment on Facebook or Twitter?