Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Baklava




Baklava is one of the few treats that I can’t resist. It’s ridiculously moreish, and once I start, it takes lots of willpower to stop.

It is a rich sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry (each layer generously buttered), filled with crushed nuts, and drenched in honey syrup. This version is very lemony and some might even say that it is not as traditional. However, I do really like the addition of lemon juice in the syrup as it seems to tone down the sweetness.

Use good honey, and allow plenty of time (preferably a day) for the syrup to work its way through the layers of pastry and nuts. Baklava will get better over time.






Bakalava
(Adapted from Taste)

Depends on how you cut it. For me, this recipe makes 12 diagonal pieces and 12 triangle pieces.

Syrup
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
120g (1/3 cup) honey
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
4 wide strips lemon zest

Filling
375g walnuts and 200g blanched whole almonds (I used a mix of pistachios, almonds and walnuts)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
125g unsalted butter, melted
375g packet filo pastry

To make syrup:
Combine the sugar, honey, lemon juice and zest, and 180ml (3/4 cup) water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.

To make filling:
Process walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped (take care not to over-process or nuts will become oily). Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with almonds, then add to walnuts with cinnamon. Combine well.

Generously brush base and sides of an 18cm x 28cm (3.5cm-deep) slice pan with butter. Unroll filo on a large chopping board and place prepared pan on top. Using a small, sharp knife, cut around pan all the way through the filo sheets. Discard trimmings. Keep filo covered with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to prevent the sheets drying out. Working with 1 filo sheet at a time, brush with butter, then place in pan. Repeat with 8 filo sheets to create 9 layers. Evenly scatter over half of the nut mixture.

Repeat buttering and layering with another 6 filo sheets, placing them over the nut filling. Evenly scatter over remaining nut mixture. Repeat buttering and layering with another 6 filo sheets, placing over the second layer of nut filling. Using your hands, press filo gently to compress slightly. Brush top well with butter.

Preheat oven to 160C fan-forced. Place baklava in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm (this will make it easier to score filo). Using a small, sharp knife, score the top few layers of filo in diamond shapes; to do this, score filo parallel to the short sides of the pan at 5cm intervals, then score it at a 45-degree angle to the first cuts at 5cm intervals. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden (cover with baking paper if the pastry is over-browning).

Pour syrup over hot baklava in pan, then stand for 2 hours or until the syrup is absorbed and baklava is cool.

Using a sharp knife, cut baklava into pieces along score marks to serve. Baklava will keep, covered with plastic wrap in the pan, in a cool, dark place for up to 1 week.

3 comments:

  1. Our family recipe includes lemons, so you're pretty authentic there! It looks beautiful and very nicely buttered! Perhaps try a cinnamon stick or two and cloves in the syrup.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your tip. :) Will definitely try adding a cinnamon stick next time I make this.

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  2. Yum, I love the way you have served your baklava. That is a great idea I am going serve my cakes like that, I hope you do not mind. I must admit though I do prefer smaller pieces of baklava as the cake is quite rich.

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