2018-10-10 / Features

On The Road in Greece: In Search of Baklava

By Catherine Tsounis

Baklava, Akrogiali style.
Photos Agapitos AndrisBaklava, Akrogiali style. Photos Agapitos AndrisI went in search of the perfect Baklava in summer of 2018. In 2003, I tasted a phenomenal dessert, full of large walnuts in Kos City at a restaurant in Cleopatra Street. I have never tasted a baklava in a café in the US or Greece since. Until 2018.

Akrogiali is a café in the town of Apollon on the island of Naxos. The Café is on the water with a spectacular beach view. The hospitality is the best among all the beach side restaurants and cafes. A pleasant , young waiter greeted me with a smile. “I am Agapitos Andris. My father, Lefteris owns the café. How can I serve you?,” he said. “My Mother, Eliza, made a baklava fresh from the oven.”

Frappe, Akrogali Café, Apollon, Naxos
Frappe, Akrogali Café, Apollon, Naxos Eliza, the gourmet chef, came to meet me, explaining her exceptional recipe. “This is a Agapitos Andris (left to right) with father/owner Lefteris, Akrogiali, Apollon, Naxos.
Agapitos Andris (left to right) with father/owner Lefteris, Akrogiali, Apollon, Naxos. family recipe. My grandmother Kiriaki made this Baklava recipe with Naxos butter and eggs. This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation.” The key to the recipe is doubling the walnut filling, using the best honey. A walnut rich Baklava with a coffee frappe, overlooking the Mediterranean sea was one of my best island experiences. Our guide, Evy, of Naxos Tours, showed us the Naxos soul. The following recipe is similar to Eliza’s. Add a thicker layer of walnuts.

View of beach from café.
View of beach from café. Persons interested in creating a Baklava recipe can follow this internet condensed recipe in our system of pounds.
1.     16 oz phyllo dough.
2.     1 1/4 cups unsalted butter  melted.
3.     1 lb. walnuts finely chopped
4.     1 tsp cinnamon.
5.     Dash of cloves
6.     1 cup granulated sugar.
7.     2 Tbsp lemon juice
8.     3/4 cup water.
9.     1/2 cup honey.

Akrogali Café, Apollon, Naxos
Akrogali Café, Apollon, Naxos Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and set the oven to 350°F. Combine chopped walnuts with sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of cloves. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.  Brush Dessert, Akrogiali Café

Dessert, Akrogiali Café 8 sheets of phyllo sheet with melted butter. Add a thin layer of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter. Continue to repeat the nut mixture and two buttered sheets of phyllo until the nut mixture is all used up.  Cut into 24 equal sized squares using a sharp knife. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown, and edges appear slightly crisp. While baking, make the syrup of a cinnamon stick, sugar, lemon juice, honey, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 7 minutes and slightly thickened. allow to cool.  Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. 1

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