Baklava

A sort of companion to last week’s turkish delight recipe, except where that was simple, this is hardcore. You can make it simply by shopping online or living in North East London, where ready made filo pastry can be purchased.

Despite having two books on baking, I didn’t have a recipe for filo pastry. Despite being judgemental on the Great British Bake Off, even the sainted Paul Hollywood tells you to just to buy frozen filo! The filo recipe is by Michel Roux, and seems to come out pretty well.

Also, baklava is just crispy, nutty, syrupy heaven, so it’s worth every ounce of effort.

Ingredients

Pastry

200g flour
170ml warm water (warmed to 50c)
1 tsp salt
15ml olive oil
Cornflour (for dusting)

Baklava

300g shelled pistachios
125g butter (melted)

Syrup

300ml water
500g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rosewater
Some orange zest

Recipe

So, are you brave? Are you going to try to make impossible pastry? Good on you. If not I’ve stuck a heading below for you so you can start from there.

Still reading? Okay! In a large bowl, mix together the flour salt and water until they all start to come together. As they do, pour the olive oil in in a thin stream, like you’re making mayonnaise.

Beat for another 5 minutes, and it should be soft and sticky. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and dust it lightly with some cornflour.

Pull the dough into 60g balls, about the size of a small satsuma, and lay on the baking tray. Cover with cling film, and leave somewhere cool for about 2 hours.

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After 2 hours, dust your work surface with cornflour and roll each ball out into pieces about the size of your baking tray. You want the pastry so thin you’ll be terrified to move it for fear it will break. At the very most, about 3mm thick. As you finish each piece, lay it on some cling film, then lay more cling film on top for the next piece.

Anything you don’t use will keep well in the freezer, well wrapped in cling film.

Recipe for cowards

Preheat your oven to 180c.

Welcome back! So… If you have a food processor, stick the shelled pistachios in there and blend them up. If not, stick them in a sandwich bag, wrap it in a teatowel, picture the face of someone you hate, then beat it with a rolling pin until they’re reduced to crumbs.

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In a suitably sized tin, place a layer of pastry. Brush this with melted butter all over, then add a thin layer of pistachio crumbs. Lay over more pastry, brush again, nuts again, until you have 5 or 6 layers of pastry. Pre-slice these into pieces about 2cm each. Pick whaterlver shape you fancy.

Stick this in the oven for 30 minutes, until puffed up and golden.

While this cooks, put the water and sugar in a pan over a high heat. Bring it to a pretty firm boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon, rose water and orange zest.

Pour half of this over the baklava as soon as it comes out, then the other half at least 10 minutes later.

Eat sparingly. It’s syrupy and will be too rich for a full blown binge. Trust me… I tried.

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