26 Sep 2014

The BBE: Best Baklava Ever

From this day onwards, there will have been my life before, and my life after this baklava. 
There is no forgetting or turning back. 
Every time I look at the pictures, I stare at them in wonder and remember how amazing it tasted and how I ate 7 portions of it, without shame. 
I just couldn't stop. But, sweet lord, every single million calorie bite was worth it.
Welcome to a new world.

The Best Baklava Ever

If you can pull together a lasagna dish, you can make baklava in your sleep. It is extremely easy to make!

It takes a little time though, just because you need to butter every single layer of filo (I did it with great care, it took me a while but it was a very therapeutic experience).
The result is phenomenal. I still can't believe it, but these were the best baklava I've ever had.

French glacé cherries are optional, but I find they work really well with the pistachios.

Ingredients:

For the syrup:
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup honey
1 stick cinnamon
1 or 2 green cardamon seed
1 star anise
2 cloves
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp rosewater

Filling and filo pastry:
1 pack of filo pastry (I bought "baklava" filo from my local Mediterranean supermarket, which is a nice and thin filo, best for baklava)
450g nuts, 50% unsalted pistachios and 50% blanched almonds (without skin)
10 French Glacé Cherries (optional), finely chopped
Approx 200g butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Equipment:
Little pans and bowls
wooden spoon
sharp knife
square or rectangular oven proof/gratin dish (approx 10x15 inch/ 20x25 cm)
pastry brush (looks like a kitchen paintbrush)
food processor (or pestle and mortal)

Method:

First, make the syrup:
1/ In a heavy bottom small pan, combine all the syrup ingredients except for the rosewater and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar has dissolved and the syrup starts to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 min until the syrup is slightly thickened. Remove the whole spices, lemon zest. Add the rosewater, mix and leave to cool in a measuring jug or little bowl.

Then make the baklava filling:
2/ Preheat the oven to 180deg C (350 F)

3/ Place the almonds and pistachios in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (don't worry if you still have some medium crumbs in there)

4/ In a medium-sized bowl, combine chopped nuts, salt, ground cinnamon

5/ In a small pan, melt the butter on low heat. Once melted, turn the heat off.

Now it's time to assemble the baklava:

6/ With the pastry brush, butter the oven dish with melted butter. 
With a sharp knife, cut 6 sheets of filo pastry (to start with) to the size of the dish (or a tiny bit smaller). The filo tends to dry and break in the open air, so set aside the rest of the pastry wrapped in cling film under a towel, until you need more.

7/ Place the first filo sheet at the base of the dish and lightly brush it with butter. Don't worry if the filo breaks or has a few little holes, there will be hidden in all the layers!
Place another sheet of pastry on top and brush it with butter.
Do the same with 3 other pastry sheets.

8/ Spread approx a third of the nut mix on top of the pastry layers.

9/ Cover with 3 or 4 layers of buttered filo pastry (like you've just done before, buttering each sheet before covering it with another buttered sheet of pastry), taking out of the wrapping and cutting filo sheets from as you go along, 3 or 4 sheets at a time.

10/ Spread another third of the nut mix on top of the pastry, and spread the French Glacé Cherries on top

11/ Cover with 3 or 4 more layers of buttered filo pastry.

12/ Repeat the whole process once more until you've used all the nuts. Finally cover with 6 buttered filo pastry sheets.

13/ Using a sharp knife, make 4 cuts lengthwise through the layers of filo, aiming for something like a diamond or square shape pattern. Bake in the oven for approx 40 min or until the top layer is golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 5min.

14/ Slowly drizzle the syrup over the baklava, which will still be warm. There seems to be a lot of syrup, but don't worry, the baklava will slowly suck it up.

15/ Let the baklava stand for a few hours, before running a sharp knife again through the cuts and serving.



Drizzling the syrup over the bakes baklava



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