My sister and family coming over from Istanbul to visit us, we are all over the moon. This calls for a celebration and I decided to make some baklavas for them – My dear brother-in-law, Mehmet, knows his baklava very well, so I am hoping this would pass the test!-
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. I greatly admire her passion and knowledge for Turkish Cooking, her books are highly recommended. 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 – Just over 1 hour
180 gr/6 oz /3/4 cup melted butter
450 gr/1 lb filo pastry sheets
340 gr/ 12 oz mixture of walnuts and pistachios, finely chopped
5 ml / 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
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 a 30cm/12in 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. Place a sheet 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 half the filo sheets, brushing each one with butter. Ease the sheets into the corners and trim the edges if they flop over the rim of the pan.
Spread the nuts over the last buttered sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon, 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 1 hour, 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.