Orange Blossom Simple Syrup

Orange blossom simple syrup is an essential part of many Lebanese pastries. For many pastries, it is important to pour cold syrup over the hot pastry when it comes out of the oven, so this syrup is best made in advance. And it lasts forever in an airtight container!

What is Simple Syrup?

So many Lebanese pastries rely on orange blossom syrup for flavor, for fragrance. And though the syrup is truly simple in its method and short ingredient list, there are a few different approaches to simple syrup: some with more sugar than water, longer or shorter cooking times, a mix of rosewater and orange blossom water, or one or the other.

Temperature Matters

I’ve tried it all, and the important tip to remember about this syrup (called attar, AH-tar, in Arabic) is that its temperature matters–a lot–when it’s poured over pastry. My rule of thumb is cold syrup over hot pastry, because I like to eat my pastry hot from the oven. But you could let the pastry cool and then pour hot syrup over the cooled pastry. The one thing to be avoided is hot over hot, or cool over cool—neither will allow for the syrup to adequately infuse into the pastry, and soak in properly. What we’re after is a marriage, a union, of syrup and pastry.

Flavors can be Personal

Once you make simple syrup a time or two, you’ll get to know your own taste for how much flower water and lemon juice to add. This depends on the potency of the flower water; I always err on the side of conservative amounts of flower water. Then taste, and add more if the syrup needs it.

For our knafeh, and also for our baklawa, tradition in my neck of the woods calls for mazaher, or orange blossom water, and not for rosewater in flavoring our syrup.

Storage Tips

Sugar syrup keeps forever (years!) in  an airtight container in the pantry  and for pastry, the refrigerator. A glass jar works great. I like to keep a small jar on the bar to flavor drinks, too, and that syrup can be flavored  in all kinds of ways.

Orange Blossom Syrup

Maureen Abood
This syrup is an essential part of many Lebanese pastries. For baklawa, it is important to pour cold syrup over the hot pastry when it comes out of the oven, or to pour hot syrup over cooled pastry, so make it in advance. I keep some on hand at all times in the refrigerator so it's ready anytime I am. This recipe doubles easily.

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add the orange blossom water (measure away from the pan so spills don't happen in your syrup!). 
  • Pour the syrup into a heatproof container and refrigerate to cool completely.
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16 Comments

  1. Amanda on May 2, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    I don’t know if I would have ever gotten that nuance of temperature and marrying. Thank you! Expecting a pastry recipe now…

  2. siena on September 22, 2015 at 5:08 PM

    this is a beautiful recipe, what a pretty pitcher. do you know where one can find such a thing?

    • Maureen Abood on September 30, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      Oh Siena, I love that pitcher too! I found this one among the treasures at an antique shop.You might try googling around for a small glass vintage pitcher with metal handle. Hope you find one!

  3. B. Rodriguez on March 3, 2016 at 9:21 PM

    Thank you for sharing your recipe! As a bartender, I am always looking for alternative ways to sweeten cocktails. I was so inspired by this, that I made some right away! I just used it in a fresh Orange-pressed ‘Skinny’ Margarita and I have to say, it certainly makes a wonderful alternative to the blue agave syrup that’s traditionally used. It has a lighter/brighter presence than the agave, which can really weigh-down a drink with it’s caramel flavor and smoky notes. This on the other hand is so much more refreshing! Thanks again!

    p.s. I’d be happy to share the margarita recipe.

    • Maureen Abood on March 4, 2016 at 7:24 AM

      Thanks so much! This is so good in cocktails and we’d love your recipe!

  4. Corinna on September 8, 2018 at 12:45 AM

    My Baklava always turns out soggy on the bottom. What am I doing wrong? Please help. Sincerely a Baklava Lover ☺️

    • Maureen Abood on September 13, 2018 at 8:56 AM

      Hi Baklava lover! My guess is you’re adding too much syrup. Do you pour cold syrup over hot pastry? Which recipe do you use (is it one of mine?)?

  5. Mary on May 28, 2019 at 7:22 PM

    Thanks for that tip! I have to try it next time I prepare my dessert. Now I know that I poor hot syrup over cooled cake or cold syrup over hot cake!!
    Also it’s good to know that cooking time is only 5 min. I left mine to simmer for too long untill it got so thick.
    Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on May 28, 2019 at 10:08 PM

      Bingo Mary! Enjoy your wonderful pastry with orange blossom syrup!

  6. Sharon on July 17, 2020 at 10:03 AM

    Thank you so much regarding the orange blossom and cold syrup over hot baklava. Is there a reason why rose water is not added to your recipe thank you so much

    • Maureen Abood on July 25, 2020 at 7:21 AM

      Hi Sharon–we traditionally make baklawa with orange blossom in my clan, but you can absolutely add a touch of rose water, either in addition to the orange blossom water or in place of it. But use less; rose is to be used more sparingly, so use about half the amount in your syrup, then taste and see if you want more.

  7. Stephanie on May 22, 2021 at 10:57 PM

    Hello, I am excited to try this, it will be my first time. Question, if I am making it Sunday and bringing it to the office on Monday, should I pour the cold syrup on the cake Sunday and let it sit, or refrigerate it? Will it be OK to do that as long as I follow the temperature rule and only pour cold over hot or vice versa? Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on May 25, 2021 at 9:55 AM

      Hi–yes, pour the cold syrup over the hot pastry (my preferred way), then leave the pastry at room temperature til your ready to cut and serve anytime over the week after that.

  8. Tex Hooper on January 17, 2022 at 10:09 PM

    I didn’t know that syrup kept forever. I need to get some syrup for Saturday’s pancakes. I’ll have to consider getting some maple.

  9. Josephine Bustos on February 3, 2022 at 9:58 PM

    Hi! How do I make orange blossom water? Or I can buy that from a store?

    • Maureen Abood on February 4, 2022 at 4:48 PM

      Hi! You can buy that in the ethnic aisle of many grocey stores, and I sell pure imported orange blossom water in my online shop here!

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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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