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January 01, 2019
According to Michael, “most people have never had great Baklava”. And he insists, “it should be pronounced properly with the emphasis on the first or last syllable. Florid gesticulation of the hands is optional,” he says. “But most importantly it shouldn’t be confused or sound anything like Balaclava”. Whatever!
So much of the taste and pleasure comes from the contrasting textures. Where the multi-layers of filo pastry on top, stay flaky in contrast to the succulent honey infused morass of nuts and pastry below.
Most people’s experience of Baklava is either out of a packet – overly sugared and sitting for months, or, in a restaurant where even if it were made properly to start with, it has languished for days and all becomes sodden. Texture and the timing of flavour release, massively affect taste experiences. Were it not so, we’d all just eat jars of baby food. Try this recipe for a completely different experience.
Ingredients:500gms filo pastry500gms chopped nuts (I use pistachios, walnuts and almonds)250gms melted butter2 tsp ground cinnamon2 tsp ground cloves
The syrup:250mls water300gms sugar50gms honeyZest of 1 lemon1 cinnamon stick
Method:Melt the butter. Prepare a baking pan by brushing with some of the melted butter. Make the nut mixture by chopping all nuts (I tend to give them a slight blitz in the food processor) and then mix them with the cinnamon and cloves in a bowl.
Start placing a few layers of the filo pastry in the pan, cut to fit the pan, and sprinkle each layer with the melted butter. After the first 6-8 sheets, sprinkle a layer of the nut mixture over the whole surface, then go back to layering the pastry, sprinkling each layer with butter. After a few layers add a nut layer and repeat until you use up all the nuts. Layer the top of the baklava with another 4-6 sheets of pastry, sprinkling each layer with butter.
Once this is done, place the baklava in the fridge for about 15 mins and preheat oven to 170⁰C. Take the baklava out the fridge (this step has just made it easier to cut through). Score through the baklava almost to the bottom, then sprinkle with water, (this should stop the edges from curling) and place it in the preheated oven.
Bake for appx 50-60 mins, or until golden on top.
The SyrupPrepare the syrup about 10 mins before the baklava comes out of the oven. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil for 2-3 mins until everything is dissolved, then let simmer for a further 5 mins. Take off the heat to cool slightly.
Once the Baklava is ready, take out the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Slowly ladle the syrup evenly allowing it to absorb. Let the baklava cool completely before serving.
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