Best Ever Baklava

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.

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Make a meal of it:
Note: Blender/processor required.

Nut mixture:
500g walnuts
500g almonds
150g pistachios
1/4 cup cinnamon
1-2 tbsp nutmeg
2 pinches ginger
1 cup raw sugar

Syrup:
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)

Also Required:
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.

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10. Bake until the filo is golden brown. While it’s baking, make your syrup by combining all the ingredients in a pan and simmering with a few cups of water. Use your judgement on how much water  and sugar you need based on the size of the tray you’re using and how sweet and sticky you want it.
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!
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2 comments

  1. Very impressive! I love baklava, but what I buy is often mediocre (which still tastes good because its baklava). I can imagine that freshly made would be amazing, and totally worth all that work. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. That’s exactly why I started making it in the first place – there’s really nothing that stands up against freshness. Give it a try and let me know how it goes – would be great to get this recipe ‘road tested’ as it’s quite different (spicier, more citrusy) than store-bought baklava.

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