As regular readers of this blog will be well aware, I’m not a big poster of sweet foods and desserts.
This isn’t because I don’t have a sweet tooth (I do), but more because I don’t have the time (or figure) to bake loads of cakes and brownies – I’m more of a practical cook in that I make food for everyday meals, rather than for snacking or indulging. I only really ever make sweet cookies or cakes as gifts, but this recipe is ALL for me!
I ate some baklava recently, a couple of little squares from the local Turkish food market and fell back in love with it all over again. That, coupled with a lazy Saturday doing not much else, resulted in an experiment in making some myself.
I’d say it was much more successful that expected. Having heard that this pastry snack is quite tricky to make, I’d prepared myself for a bit of a challenge, but thanks to the very step-by-step recipe I followed, everything went pretty smoothly! (Original recipe here). The baklava was sweet, crisp and sticky all at once, with a much more generous quantity of nuts than I’ve previously encountered. It’s not as jaw-achingly sweet, syrupy and sticky as those you can pick up in the Turkish market, and the nuts are much more prevalent and the pastry flakier. You will feel pretty proud of yourself for having made such a notoriously difficult dessert without issue if you make this!
I’ve adapted most of the quantities below to grams, but have left the original measurements for the syrup in American cups because I wasn’t really in the mood for measuring out honey onto my scales in order to convert the amount into grams.
You will need:
300g shelled pistachios
50g golden caster sugar
2 tspns cinnamon
150g unsalted butter
300g phyllo sheets
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1 – Preheat the oven to 190 degrees
2 – In batches, pound the walnuts and 220g of the pistachios using a mortar and pestle (or food processor if you have one) into small pieces; mix in the sugar and cinnamon
3 – Melt the butter in a pan and grab a large baking dish; use a pastry brush to coat the base and sides of the dish with the melted butter
4 – Unwrap the phyllo sheets and carefully unroll onto a clean surface, keeping the large sheet of plastic used to roll the sheets underneath; dampen the tea towel (not too wet!) and lay it over the phyllo
5 – If the phyllo sheets are too big for your baking pan, trim them with scissors (all layers at once)
6 – Now lay the bottom layer of dough into the butter pan and use the pastry brush to brush butter all over the top of the sheet, making sure to replace the damp towel back over the pastry stack as soon as you’ve removed the first layer
7 – Repeat with layering 6 more sheets to total of 7 sheets of phyllo, buttering the top of each sheet of phyllo before placing the next
8 – Add the first layer of nuts, sprinkling half of them over the dough, spreading them flat with your hands very carefully
9 – Create another phyllo layer by placing a sheet of phyllo on top of the nuts and carefully brushing with melted butter; repeat, layering 4 more sheets in all, with butter between each layer
10 – Add the second and last layer of nuts, sprinkling the remaining chopped nuts over the phyllo
11 – Keep going with laying another 7 sheets of phyllo, buttering the top layer
12 – Cut the baklava using a very sharp knife, on the diagonal
13 – Place the pan of baklava in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes; check half way through and rotate the pan for even browning
14 – Meanwhile chop/pound the remaining pistachios and set aside
15 – When the phyllo is evenly golden brown all over, remove the pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool
16 – While the baklava is cooling, make the syrup by combining the sugar, water, and honey in a sauce pan and bringing to a boil for 10 minutes
17 – While the syrup is cooking, run your knife through the baklava to be sure the pieces are cut all the way through
18 – When the syrup has boiled for 10 minutes, remove from the stove and carefully pour over the baklava, being sure to coat each piece
19 – Sprinkle some of the chopped pistachios on each of the baklava squares and leave to set and cool completely for a few hours before serving