Turkish Baklava history
Of all the sweets that come from Turkey baklava is probably the most famous and delicious. Although there is no consensus on the history of the dessert, it is believed that baklava descended from an Assyrian dessert consisting of dried fruit in between two layers of pastry. There are numerous debates about the "original origin" of baklava, most famously between Speros Vryonis, professor of Greek and Byzantine history, and Charles Perry, food historian and journalist. While Vryonis claims the dessert has Byzantine roots, Perry insists on its Turkish/Turkic origin.
Regardless of its origin, baklava, a closer version to the one we know today (with multiple layers of thin pastry), came from Damascus to the Turkish city of Antep (Gaziantep), and from Antep to the rest of Anatolia. By the end of its journey it came to perfection at the Ottoman palace kitchens. It became so prominent in the palace tradition that by the end of 17th century a ceremony called "baklava alayi (parade), " during which janissaries walked to the palace on the 15th day of Ramadan to fetch trays of baklava-one for every ten soldiers prepared by the palace cooks, was already established.
Today baklava is still a specialty and sold at stores that specializes only on baklava. In these baklava stores one can find different versions of layered thin pastry desserts with different ingredients and different cuts. Turkish baklava is made by very thin layers of pastry made from wheat starch and a sugary syrup that does not contain honey or spices.
Antep being the city that spread baklava to the rest of Turkey preserves its prestige over the dessert. Almost all baklava store owners/chefs in Istanbul or elsewhere claim to be from Antep, the baklava and pistachio capital of Turkey.
Among the Turks the biggest debate over baklava seems to be the stuffing: some like walnut and some pistachio, and it can be a heated one. However, the hazelnut baklava from the Black Sea region is also noteworthy.
Being totally on the walnut camp, I will give you an easy-to-make walnut baklava recipe that you can make with store bought phyllo dough.
1 box store bought thin phllyo dough (every brand has different number of sheets in box. As long as you have ~20 sheets, it fine)