Baklava

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This recipe is not for the faint of heart or for the diabetics. I took it from the trusty book Michel Roux’s Pastry, but I cheated with the store-bought pastry.

Apart from being extremely sweet, the flavours are really nice. I would make this again for sure, but maybe next time buy already shelled pistachios, as I have better things to do with my time than shell 500 g of pistachios. On the plus side of my experience, I now know that half of the mass of the pistachios is the shell.

Ingredients

16 sheets of filo, as large as your dish (I used a 20 cm square dish)
250 g pistachios, without shells
30 g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
140 g butter, melted and cooled

For the syrup

250 mL clear honey (equivalent to 340 g honey. Yes, you read that right: three hundred and forty grams)
80 g caster sugar, because we don’t have enough sugar yet
paired zest of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves

Procedure

Line your dish with baking paper. Blitz the nuts, the sugar, and the cinnamon in a food processor, until they are coarsely chopped.

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Brush 6 sheets of filo pastry with butter and lay one on top of another in the dish. Top with half of the nut mixture. Brush another 4 sheets of filo with butter and lay them over the pistachios. Top with the rest of the pistachios mixture and put the remaining 6 sheets of filo, brushed with butter, on top. Using a very sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamond shapes, cutting right through the layers.

Bake the baklava for 15 min, then lower the oven temperature to 150 C and bake for a further 30 min.

To make the syrup, put 160 mL of water in a heavy-based saucepan with the honey, sugar, lemon zest, and the spices. Heat slowly to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for about 20 minutes until thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Strain through a sieve.

When baklava is baked, let stand for 15 min and then pour the syrup over the baklava.

Enjoy with some bitter coffee or tea.

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