I suppose the most well known Middle Eastern pastry. I adore baklava and find them terribly addictive, never being able to stop at a sensible number! Unfortunately for me, when it comes to dessert, my kids are truly English, like my husband – they’re not that much into “exotic” ones! That of course means that it only makes an appearance at parties, which is just as well because it’s the perfect party friendly dessert.
And this is why: while you ought to make it a minimum of 12 hours before, it is so much better 5 days later! Every chef’s dream!
The first step to making baklava is to get the syrup done and chilled, so we’re talking at least 4 hours before or day before. If you forget, you can always make it and fast chill in the freezer, I’ve done that too many times to count now! The cold syrup will then be poured over the baklava straight out of the oven. A word to the wise, if using a glass dish, I suggest waiting 5 minutes before doing that.
Ingredients (makes about 50)
30 large sheets filo pastry (at least 33cm x 23cm/13″ x 9″), about 1.5-2 packets, depending on what brand you’re using.
100g butter, melted
300g pistachios (or walnut/almonds or a mix, I prefer pistachios)
80g caster sugar
sprinkling of cinnamon
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp rose water (or a couple of drops of pure essential rose geranium oil)
3 cardamom pods
6cm long cinnamon stick
50mls honey (runny)
1. Make the syrup. Place all syrup ingredients except geranium, lemon juice & honey & bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until slightly thickened. Take off heat & add honey, geranium & lemon juice. Stir, cool, then place in fridge.
2. Heat oven to 180C (160c fan).
3. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until you get a coarse grind, see pic. It’s ok to have the odd large piece. If it bothers you, pulse some more but don’t let the nuts get to the oily powder stage.
4. In a roomy bowl, mix the nuts and the caster sugar thoroughly.
5. The dish. I use my brownie pan that measures about 33cm by 23 cm (13×9) or a rectangular glass dish with roughly the same measurements. Grease it, then layer 10 sheets, one at a time, brushing each with the melted butter as you go along, letting the edges come up slightly.
6. Spread half the nuts evenly over the sheets. Cover with 10 more sheets the same way, repeat with remaining nuts, finishing with final 10 sheets.
7. Using a sharp knife, cut the bakhlava into the traditional diamond shapes or squares or even triangles, as in pic.
8. Bake for about 30-40 minutes till light golden.
9. Remove from oven and pour all but about 3 tbsp of the COLD syrup evenly over the cut lines. I use all the syrup up but you can cut it down if you don’t fancy it too sickly!
10. Spoon the remaining syrup over the top of the baklava.
11. When cooled to room temp, cover with foil and keep for a few days before serving.
Step by step video coming soon! x