Join us on Instagram Live this Thursday, February 18, to make baklava with chef Tim Hontzas of Johnny’s Restaurant in Homewood, Alabama.

We thank Lodge Cast Iron for sponsoring SFA Cooking Schools.


1 lb pecans, toasted
1 lb almonds, toasted
½ lb walnuts
½ lb shelled roasted pistachios. Pulse in a spice blender or Cuisinart
2 lb phyllo dough
2 lb unsalted butter, Melt ( Be sure it is very hot when using)
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar

Begin by lightly toasting nuts in a sauté pan. Grind nuts to a medium-fine consistency. Combine spices and sugar in a small bowl and mix with nuts. Set aside.

Prepare a 15.5 x 10.5-inch Lodge Cast Iron baking pan (or commercial 17.5 x 13 “half pan”) pan by brushing with melted butter, then 10-12 sheets buttered phyllo. Spread about 2 cups of nut mixture evenly, then 3 sheets buttered phyllo, then nuts again until all nuts are used. Top with 15 to 18 sheets of phyllo buttered very well. Put in freezer about 10 minutes, then cut as desired. Cut all the way through twice and it is easier to remove after baked. If you want diamond shapes, cut lengthwise first, turn pan and cut diagonally. You can put a whole clove in each one if desired. You may just want squares. Spray with water to prevent curling of phyllo, then bake at 325 degrees for about an hour to hour and a half. Should be a nice golden color. Remove from oven and immediately spoon syrup evenly over all. Sprinkle with roasted pistachios. Let set up overnight. Do not refrigerate.


9 cups sugar
5 cups water
2 Tablespoons Karo syrup
4 slices lemon
5 slices orange
5 sticks cinnamon
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 jigger GOOD Bourbon

Bring everything except lemon juice and bourbon to a high boil.  Cover and cook slowly about 1 hour. Then add lemon juice and boil another 30 minutes. Should be at a soft boil stage (232-234 degrees). You will need a candy or digital thermometer. Check if it sets up when you put a drop in a saucer. Remove from heat and add bourbon.  Cool, then remove lemon and orange rinds and stick cinnamon.

Syrup should be at room temperature when you put it on hot baklava.

I like to make the syrup the day before so you can tell how thick it is—that is important for good baklava. You can make the syrup and keep it in the refrigerator for weeks. If you refrigerate, pull syrup out at room temp for at least 24 hours.

SFA thanks Lodge Cast Iron for underwriting SFA Cooking School.