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Baklava

Perfect with a cup of strong coffee, or simply as a treat at any time, these sweet, sticky, flaky, nutty slices are quick and easy to make yet look like you’ve spent a lot of time and effort. There are many different variations and this is among the simplest.

Makes approximately 16 pieces

 

Ingredients

For the syrup

For the pastry

Method

Syrup

Bring the water, caster sugar, and lemon juice to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, pour into a jug and let it cool before transferring it to the fridge to chill.

Pastry

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 356°F / gas mark 4.

Line a shallow baking or roasting tray about 9 x 9 x 1½ inches / 23 x 23 x 4 cm with kitchen foil or use a disposable tin foil tray of a similar size. Brush the inside with butter.

The next stage involves lining the base and the sides of the tray with half (one packet) of the filo sheets. Brush each sheet with butter as you go. Line the base and the sides, arranging the sheets lining the sides to hang over the tops.

Spread the pistachios evenly over the filo sheets on the base. Then sprinkle the desiccated coconut over the pistachio layer.

Use the other half (second packet) of filo sheets to cover the pistachios and coconut in the same way, bringing the sheets up the sides so they hang over the edges. Again, butter the sheets as you go, making sure both sides are brushed.

Use a sharp knife to trim the filo pastry round the top of the tin to give a neat finish.

Then, use the knife to cut diagonals both ways across the pastry, around 1½ – 2 inches / 4 – 5 cm apart, cutting the baklava right down to the bottom of the tin, to make diamond shapes.

Put the tray in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. The filo will puff up and become golden brown.

Assembly

As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, pour half the chilled syrup over it and let it soak in. After a few minutes, pour in the rest.

Tips

Use a food processor to chop the nuts.

Trivia

Baklava, a classic sweet treat of the Ottoman Empire was probably known in some form by the ancient Greeks and Romans and both the modern Greeks and the Turks argue over who invented it. There are many variants, but essentially it consists of layers of dough and nuts. The Turks use pistachios, walnuts, and almonds while in the Black Sea region they use hazel nuts. In Greece, baklava is made with 33 layers of pastry, to represent the age of Jesus at his death. In Armenia they add cinnamon and cloves.