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.
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.
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
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- 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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I don’t know if I would have ever gotten that nuance of temperature and marrying. Thank you! Expecting a pastry recipe now…
this is a beautiful recipe, what a pretty pitcher. do you know where one can find such a thing?
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!
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.
Thanks so much! This is so good in cocktails and we’d love your recipe!
My Baklava always turns out soggy on the bottom. What am I doing wrong? Please help. Sincerely a Baklava Lover ☺️
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?)?
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.
Bingo Mary! Enjoy your wonderful pastry with orange blossom syrup!
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Hi! How do I make orange blossom water? Or I can buy that from a store?
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!
Hi Maureen! I can never ever get this syrup to be thick, i feel like it’s always too thin. What am i doing wrong? I ever double the amount of sugar (typically it a 50/50 ratio for me) and I boil the syrup closer to 10 mins but i still can’t get it right. Suggestions?
Hi Gabi! My syrup isn’t particularly thick here. But I do think if you’re looking for thicker, reduce the amount of water and increase the sugar and cooking longer should get results. I have found though that thicker syrup poured on the baklawa isn’t ideal. But thicker syrup for desserts like knafeh is great!!