Baklava is one sweet that I have always wanted to learn to make, but kept putting it off because I thought it was too time consuming to make, and having so many variations, just didn’t know where to start. However, after seeing the Middle Eastern sweets that Precious Moments posted recently, the gorgeous and delicious looking Arabian-style baklava fingers prompted me to finally make my first ever baklava. I have read previously of a cheat method of making baklava without having to brush each layer of fillo. But since this was my first time making baklava, I didn’t want to do the drastic method of not brushing the pastry at all, so I adapted the method by brushing only every 3 sheets of the pastry and it seemed to have worked for me beautifully.
Makes one 30cm x 20cm tray
375g (24 sheets) fillo pastry
250g ghee *, melted
1 cup pistachio nuts
1 cup walnuts, or almonds
150g white granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 stick cinnamon
* If you cannot find ghee, use unsalted butter instead – melt and let the milk solids settle then use the clear liquid on top only.
1. Toast (dry roast) pistachio nuts and walnuts in a frying pan over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly brown. Cool, then blend or grind the nuts into coarse powder. Mix with sugar and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Melt ghee.
3. Pour about 1/4 cup melted ghee into a 30cm x 20cm slice tin to cover the base of the tin.
4. Lay 3 sheets fillo pastry on top of the ghee, lay them to one side of the pan as they probably won’t cover the whole base, fold over and trim off any excess so you have 6 layers of pastry, brush the top with melted ghee. Take another 3 sheets of the pastry and lay them on the other side of the pan to cover any gap, fold over and trim as before, brush with melted ghee. Spread about 1/3 of the nut mixture evenly over the pastry. Repeat two more times with the pastry and nut mixture. Finally top with the remaining pastry, no need to brush with melted ghee on this top layer.
5. Use a very sharp knife and cut the pastry into diamond (or square) shapes, cut right through to the base. Pour any remaining melted ghee over the pastry, making sure the ghee penetrates through all the cut surfaces, so it will soak up the pastry during baking.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until light golden brown (I baked for 45 minutes, but I think too over cooked). Remove from oven, and immediately pour the cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava. Leave for at least 6-8 hours, or 24 hours even better, in a cool dry place. Before serving just cut through the diamond shapes again, as the syrup would have sealed up the cut surface.
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and let cool.
1. When working with fillo pastry, keep the pastry sheets from drying out by placing a damp, clean tea towel over them until they are ready to use.
2. For the syrup, other flavourings may include cloves, cardamom, orange blossom water, rose water, or lemon rind and juice.
Texture: Crunchy, crispy & sweet
Consume: Best within about 2 weeks
Storage: Will keep for about 2 weeks in a cool dry place
Recipe References: ‘Middle Eastern Nut-Filled Multi-layered Pastry (Baklava)’ by Gil Marks, ‘Baklava’ by Anneka Manning, & ‘Pistachio Baklava’ recipe at Dinner Co-op