An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. There is no bad time for a good piece of baklava! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful.
This recipe is an adaptation from Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, one of my favorite Turkish cookery authors. My version of baklava is less sweet and more fragrant and lemony, must say really pleased with it. With using filo pastry sheets, baklava is much easier to make than you think. I hope you would give it a go sometime and enjoy this wonderful treat.
Preparation time :20 minutes Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes
230 gr/ 8oz / 1 cup melted unsalted butter
440 gr/1 lb. 2 packs of filo pastry sheets – total 24 sheets –
375 gr/ 13 oz. walnuts and unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
10 ml / 2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the syrup:
450 gr/ 2 ¼ cups sugar
420 ml/ 14 fl. oz. / 1 ¾ cup water
Juice of ½ large lemon
30cmx19 cm (12inx7in) baking dish to bake
Ground pistachio nuts to sprinkle over the baklavas
Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F / Gas 3
Make the syrup first. Put the sugar into a heavy pan, pour in water and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice, them simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Leave to cool in the pan.
Melt the butter in a small pan and then brush a little over the bottom and sides of the baking pan.
To thaw frozen filo sheets, it is best to place it in the fridge the night before and bring it to room temperature 2 hours before using. If in the fridge, take out the filo pastry sheets 20 minutes prior using, to bring to the room temperature. Place two sheets of filo pastry in the bottom of the greased pan and brush it with melted butter (trim from the edges to fit, if needed). Continue until you have used 12 filo sheets, brushing every two sheets with butter. Ease the sheets into the corners and trim the edges if they flop over the rim of the pan.
Spread the walnuts over the 12th buttered sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon, and then continue as before with the remaining filo sheets. Brush the top one as well, then, using a sharp knife cut diagonal parallel lines right through all the layers to the bottom to form small diamond shapes.
Bake the baklava into the oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden – if it is still pale, increase the temperature for a few minutes at the end.
When the baklava is ready, remove it from the oven and slowly pour the cooled syrup over the piping hot pastry. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to soak up the syrup, then take it out and leave to cool.
Once the baklava is cool, lift the diamond shaped pieces out of the pan and arrange them in a serving dish. Serve baklava pieces with ground pistachios over them, always at room temperature.
Note: Baklava should never be stored at the refrigerator, as the fat congeals, pastry absorbs the moisture and it becomes soggy.