It’s incredible how much this delicious little pastry created controversy with so many stories as to its origins and symbolic preparation.
Through generations Lebanese woman have learned from their mothers how this delightful pastry is used in the spreading of love, light and a lot of parent-pride. It is given to friends and family during holidays and special occasions. I bake baklava to honor and celebrate accomplishments of family and friends. It's like giving a congratulatory hug with each morsel.
Each nation and family has their own symbolic versions with their own recipes and explanations of the origin and phonetic and spelling variations of the word baklava. It’s so special and personal that some families call it baklawti, meaning ‘my baklava’.
Because it is so special to me, I would like to share with you my family’s Baklava Story.
My family had built themselves from nothing to creating a wholesale bakery from scratch delivering Lebanese baked goods to restaurants, grocery stores, masques and universities for nearly two decades in cities across Northern California. Working in large factories and bakeries upon their move to the United States, my father knew his talent. It was baking and spreading love. My mother was the head of the bakery enterprise and was famous for her baklava. Event and holiday planners would book her well in advance to bake them her special baklava. My father was famous for his pita pocket bread. He provided daily fresh bread to many stores and restaurants in northern California, including but not limited to: Modesto, Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
It was with Lebanese baked goods, my parents could raise a family of 5 and put my mom through college. She graduated with honors from the University of the Pacific in Computer Information Systems, while baking her baklava and Arabic feasts for foreign exchange students missing home during the holidays.
After 20 years of baking, my parents retired from the bakery. My mother started to create her own healthy version of Baklava for family and friends: still crispy melt in your mouth but with half the butter or with coconut butter substitute for ‘veggie people’, and syrup that is ripe in sweetness with half the sugar and honey.
The Baltagi Family recipe includes: Fillo dough, Walnuts, Sugar, Butter Syrup: Sugar and Honey, Rose Water, Orange Blossom Water
She still bakes but for her family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for holidays and special occasions. For the rest, as my mother would say, “GOOGLE IT!”