So if you’re not making your own filo, how do you improve on the usual mass-produced stuff? One answer is the nuts. Most of the baklava you find in stores contains one or two different kinds of nuts, usually walnuts with perhaps a few almonds mixed in. That’s because for a larger manufacturers more exotic nut meats like pistachios and cashews are too expensive. Home bakers, therefore, have the advantage.
Honey is another big area of opportunity. Instead of making your syrup with something as cloyingly sweet as clover honey, a single-pollen honey like orange blossom is not only a little mellower, it will introduce some different flavor notes. And if you happen to have a spice grinder, fresh ground spices will give your baklava the pronounced aromas and bold flavors that “real deal” baklava is known for.