If traditional Middle Eastern/European Baklava and all-American Apple Pie had a baby, it would be Apple Maple Baklava. Apple Maple Baklava still has everything you love about the ancient treat – many leaves of Phyllo dough layered with walnuts and sweet syrup – but with typical American fall flavors added.
We have a group of friends who get-together every second month for a wine-tasting. The theme for our October meeting was “Wines from Greece”. I usually try to make a dessert to go along with the theme for the night, so as soon as I knew we were tasting Greek wines I thought I should make baklava. But I had a whole bunch of beautiful apples from our farm so maybe I should make an apple tart or pie. Hey, why not combine the two? As soon as I thought of adding apples to baklava I knew I would switch out the traditional honey in the syrup with real maple syrup.
Perfecting Apple Maple Baklava:
For my first batch of Apple Maple Baklava I used a typical Greek-style baklava recipe, simply adding diced apples to the layers and switching out the honey for maple syrup. The first batch tasted good enough to bring to the wine-group but I wasn’t completely happy with the result. It was too sweet and a bit soggy. Before the recipe was blog-worthy I’d have to go back to the drawing board.
For the revised recipe I used half as much sugar and water but used the same amount of maple syrup as I did for the first batch. Not only was the second batch less sweet and soggy, the maple flavor was more pronounced. The lemon juice in the syrup marries the apple and maple flavors perfectly.
Apple Maple Baklava is a bit moister and softer than the traditional variety because the apples in the filling give off some moisture as they bake. The small loss of crispiness is a fair trade-off for the lovely fall flavors.
- 8 oz (about 20 sheets) Phyllo dough, defrosted
- 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cups (16 oz, 448g) walnuts
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2-3 apples, peeled, cored and diced (about 3 cups of diced apples)
- 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- Seeds and pod from 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60 ml) lemon juice
Make the Pastry
- Preheat the oven to 350°F . Combine the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves in a food processor and grind to a coarse texture .
- Unroll the Phyllo sheets and cover them with a damp towel so they don't dry out. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9"x 13" baking pan with butter. Lay a sheet of Phyllo into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the sheet with butter and lay another sheet of Phyllo on top. Layer 5 sheets of Phyllo, sprinkling with butter between every sheet. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnuts over the dough. Sprinkle 1/3 of the diced apples over the walnuts.
- Layer another 5 Phyllo sheets with butter. Sprinkle with 1/2 the remaining walnuts and apples. Layer another 5 Phyllo sheets with butter. Sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and apples. Finish layering the remaining Phyllo sheets with butter. Brush the entire top layer with butter so it doesn't dry out.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the top section of phyllo sheets lengthwise into 6 strips about 1.5 inches wide. Cut strips diagonally to form diamonds. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.
Make the Syrup
- Combine everything but the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Lemon Juice and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and vanilla bean pod.
- As soon as the baklava is removed from the oven cut through the scored lines all the way to the pan. Pour the syrup over the hot baklava. Allow the baklava to cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving.
The baklava is best the day it is made, but will keep for several days at room temperature.
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