Pakhlava Recipe

Around the World in Five Desserts

Food is a big part of culture, and there’s always something special about experiencing another person’s homeland or heritage through their cooking. Here, we’ve asked five local women to share a part of their culture with us through their favorite dessert recipes. Nothing brings people together quite like sharing a sweet treat!

Photography by Rich Smith

 “Baklava (in Azerbaijani it is pakhlava) is a sweet of pastry, nuts, and honey popular across the Caucasus, Middle East, and eastern Mediterranean. Baklava from Azerbaijani cuisine will have anywhere from 10 to 12 layers of dough, layered with chopped walnuts or almond, sugar, and cardamom.”

-Amina Mammadova

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Amina Mammadova
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 8


  • 150 mL lukewarm milk
  • 20 g yeast
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 120 g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 450 g flour

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 300 mL water
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • juice of one lemon

For the filling:

  • 400 g walnuts, chopped
  • 400 g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cardamom

For the decoration:

  • 4 pieces walnuts or almonds
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten to glaze
  • 1 Tbsp. milk


For the dough:

  • Add lukewarm milk, yeast, and salt to a mixing bowl and let yeast bloom.
  • After 5 minutes, add melted butter, egg, and vanilla and mix well.
  • Add 3½ cups of flour and mix until dough is soft and no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed.
  • Knead dough for 5 minutes, or until smooth, then cover and rest for 15.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll as thin as possible, generously flouring, until you can see your hand through the dough.
  • Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

For the syrup:

  • Add sugar, water, honey, and lemon juice to a medium saucepan and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.

For the filling:

  • Coarsely chop walnuts and transfer to a large mixing bowl and add sugar and ground cardamom.
  • Mix well to combine.

For the Pakhlava:

  • Preheat oven to 355° and set a rack at the center.
  • Brush a 9x13 glass baking dish with butter.
  • Place a sheet of dough in the dish and brush with butter, then repeat until you have 8 buttered layers of dough.
  • Sprinkle a third of the filling onto the top layer.
  • Add another 4 sheets of dough, brushing each with butter, then top with half of the remaining filling. Repeat once.
  • Finally, add 8 sheets of dough for the top layer, brushing each with melted butter.
  • Using a sharp knife and leaving a ½-inch solid border around the sides of the pan, slice the dough lengthwise into four 1½-inch-thick columns.
  • Then, make diagonal cuts every 1½ inches across the columns to create a pattern of diamond shapes.
  • Brush the top layer generously with melted butter, and top each diamond of dough with a walnut or almond.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 300°.
  • Brush with more melted butter, then bake for another 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  • If needed, cut along the creases again, then pour the syrup evenly over the pakhlava (it will sizzle dramatically).
  • Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the baking dish.


Note: Pakhlava can be served the same day, but you may also let it sit for the night and then serve the next day.
Keyword Mediterranean recipe, Middle Eastern recipe, Pakhlava recipe

Pakhlava on a serving platter with honey and walnuts

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