In Greece, baklava comes in many regional guises, with different names such as samousades, zournadakia, and masourakia. Generally speaking, in southern Greece baklava is mostly made with chopped almonds and in the north with walnuts; although some recipes use hazelnuts, sesame or even raisins. Pistachio baklava is more of a Turkish, Middle Eastern and north African tradition, but it can be easily found in Athens if you know where to go. For the Greek take on baklava, head straight to Afoi Asimakopouloi in Exarchia, made with their own home-made butter. For a taste of samousades (baklava rolls with chopped almonds) pay a visit to Pnyka bakery. For the rarer baklavou from Lesvos island, cut into cubes and individually wrapped in paper, pay a visit to Mitropolitikon, a retro shrine to sugar in the Historic Centre.
In the southern suburbs, you’ll find plenty of family-run pastry shops that specialise in politika glyka, syrupy sweets which arrived in Greece along with refugees from Istanbul and Asia Minor from the 1920s onwards. Palet is one of the few places where you’ll find a Turkish specialty called baklava sultan, in which the pastry is almost raw, brushed with freshly churned butter and stuffed with finely chopped pistachios. Maxim does two kinds of baklava, one with walnuts and one with pistachios. At Belle Vue, my favourite is baklava kuru, a drier, flakier version in which many thin layers of pastry are stuffed with pistachio nuts from Aegina. Over in Glyfada, Papaparaskevas makes the perfect saragli (baklava rolls). Chatzis, near Syntagma Square, does a refreshing version of baklava filled with whipped cream. And at Feyrouz, pistachios are layered with buckwheat filo; they also do a fantastic vegan baklava with coconut milk.