The other day, I was accompanying my Mum on her (what seems to me) daily mammoth trip to Boots, when we were beckoned over at the entrance by an interesting bunch of twenty-somethings with the offering of freshly baked pastries. A dreadlocked figure handed us both a diamond shaped sticky looking morsel in its own little paper boat, and we happily tucked into what was the tastiest baklava I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. My automatic next move was to ask for the recipe, but they insisted on educating us about the entire history of Israel first. Once we’d pocketed a library’s worth of notes, nodded and exclaimed at the appropriate moments, I deemed it suitable to strike up the baklava conversation again, but it turned out nobody knew the recipe after all because someone’s mum had made it.
So to the drawing board I went!
A mish-mash of cookbooks, blogposts and recipe websites gave me a delicious outcome of sweet, flaky, crispy goodness that lasted a good 10 days. It actually developed a much more intense flavour over time, so definitely think ahead and bake some a good couple of days before you’d like to serve it. Your taste buds, and your guests, will most certainly thank you.
- 1 packet (270g) of filo pastry sheets, thawed
- 200g butter, melted
- 125g walnuts
- 125g pistachios
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 150ml water
- 90g honey
To kick off proceedings, begin by making your syrup (it needs time to cool down, which is conveniently while you’re assembling the baklava). In a saucepan combine the sugar, lemon juice, water and honey. Bring to a boil over a high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, and then let it bubble away for 5 minutes without stirring. Once it’s smooth, thick and glossy, remove it from the heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Liberally butter an 8×8 inch pan, and trim the filo sheets so that they fit snugly into your pan. Once they’re the right size, lay them out on a table top and cover with a damp tea towel so that they don’t dry out.
To make the nutty filling, pop the walnuts and pistachios into a food processor.
Pulse until finely chopped.
Transfer to a bowl, and mix in your cinnamon.
Place your first filo sheet into the baking pan, and brush generously with melted butter. Layer another sheet over that, and brush again with the butter. Repeat this until you have a layer of about 4-6 sheets of filo, remembering to brush each time.
Spread about half of your nut mixture over the top.
Repeat this with another 4-6 buttered filo sheets, followed by the other half of the nuts. Finish off with the last few layers of filo, and brush the very top with butter. Now this final step is very important, which I stupidly forgot to do. Cut the pastry lengthways into 4 strips, then cut across diagonally to create those lovely, signature diamond shapes.
In my haste to get these in the oven, I shoved them in and remembered halfway through the baking time that they hadn’t yet seen a knife. So as you can tell, my pastry was already crisp when I cut them, and I sadly didn’t end up with beautifully neat lines.
Luckily, this had no impact on the flavour, merely the aesthetics!
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is an even golden brown.
Remove the baklava from the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the whole thing. You should hear it sizzle, which means it will stay crisp, and not become soggy. Let it cool on a wire rack, uncovered at room temperature, preferably overnight. This allows the syrup to penetrate each layer, also acting as a bit of a preservative, making it last for 1 to 2 weeks.
Dig in, and marvel at your epic mid-morning coffee breaks to come. Mazel tov!