The other weekend I baked a few little things for an afternoon tea, and I was asked for the recipe I used to make the baklava. I like baklava, and having it made it now, I’d probably buy it rather than bake it, as it is a bit time-consuming. However, the satisfaction of having done it yourself does add something to the flavour. This recipe is a modified version of the one from Donna Hay’s excellent Modern Classics Book 2.
36 sheets of filo pastry (one 375g pack of Pampas filo is sufficient)
125g melted butter (for pastry)
3 tablespoons oil
1 – 1.5 cups chopped walnuts (100-150g of walnuts)
1.5 cups chopped almonds (150g – blanched is good but not required)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for filling)
1/3 cup brown sugar
45g softened butter (for filling)
1 cup water
2 cups white sugar
0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for syrup)
Heat oven to 160 degrees celcius. Defrost the filo pastry. Grease a shallow, rectangular tray about 20cm by 30cm (don’t line with foil or baking paper).
Make filling by finely chopping and combining all the nuts with cinnamon, sugar and butter.
Combine butter and oil. Place a single sheet of filo into tray, and moisten with butter-oil using pasty brush. If a single sheet doesn’t fit, just tear the pastry to size, or even cover with multiple pieces of sheets so that whole tray is covered. Put another sheet down and moisten again. Build up 12 layers of sheets this way.
Spread half of the spiced nut mixture evenly across the pastry. Cover with another 12 layers of pastry, as before. Then spread the remaining half of mixture on top. Finish with the remaining 12 layers of pastry in the same way.
Cut the tray of baklava into diamonds – one set of cuts parallel to the sides, and another at an angle. Should make about 28 pieces. Put it into the oven, and bake for 1 hour. But don’t stop yet, there’s the syrup to make.
Put the sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a further six minutes until it forms a syrup, and then remove from heat. Take the cloves out.
After the baklava is cooked, remove and let sit for five minutes or so, then pour the syrup over. It’s tasty warm, or if you’ve got self-control, wait about a day, and it will be even better.