Baklava is magical stuff. Mine got me a free ticket to WOMAD music festival, where I discovered this epic DJ. It also had a random Saudi guy who wandered into our house go “whoa, not even my Mum makes that!”
Heads up: this one’s not a healthy version, but it’s baklava so who caaaares! You might want to halve the recipe too – this is what I use for big gatherings.
Make a meal of it:
Note: Blender/processor required.
1/4 cup cinnamon
1-2 tbsp nutmeg
2 pinches ginger
1 cup raw sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
juice of 1 orange + 3/4 of its rind, cut in strips
juice of 1 lemon
slurp each of vanilla essence, rosewater & almond essence/amaretto
1/2 cup honey
10-15 whole cloves
2-3 whole star anise
a shameful amount of sugar (probably about another cup or so – enough to turn it all into a sticky mess)
a packet and a half of filo pastry, and melted butter.
1. Par-roast the nuts and allow to cool.
2. Put them into a blender/processor and whizz them till about half the mix has turned into meal and the other half into rubble.
2. In a bowl, add spices and sugar.
3. Grease a deep tray with butter and a bit of flour.
4. Cut the filo to fit the tray, then layer: pastry, butter, pastry, butter, etc for about 10 sheets of filo.5. Spread out half the nut mixture.
6. Pastry, butter, pastry butter; about 7 sheets.
7. Spread out the other half of the nut mixture.
8. Pastry, butter, pastry butter; about 7 sheets.
9. Now comes the tricky part. You have to cut the huge slab into little diamond-shaped pieces before you cook the pastry. Obviously with my spacial awareness being as it is, I find this rather challenging and I have to stick my tongue out in concentration as I do it. Sometimes, bits of pastry end up in my mouth this way.
11. When the baklava has cooked, remove from the oven and pour the hot syrup over the top. It’s traditional to do this while the pastry is still hot – just ask my Aunt Mina. I’ve done it both hot and cold though, and I can’t say there’s a noticeable difference other than the super satisfying noise it makes while hot.
12. Allow to cool while rearranging the contents of the syrup to make it look pretty (of course).
13. Behold the magical powers of baklava!