This dish doesn’t need much by way of an introduction: the intensely sweet combination of sugar, pistachios and crisp filo pastry speaks for itself. As it takes a few hours to seep through, making it perfect for a party, such as Fiesta Friday! Every Friday lots of bloggers join the fun, linking up their recipes or other posts as well as visiting those of the others. It’s a great way to get to know other food bloggers, as well as their recipes!
I had promised Angie this amazing Turkish treat, versions of which you can find all over the Middle East. If you have tried the supermarket variety and you didn’t like it, let me assure you that those are as close to the freshly-made ones as ketchup is to a fresh tomato. I developed this recipe from the one Binnur posted on her wonderful Turkish Cookbook – I admire her comprehensive collection of recipes and love the atmospheric pictures of Turkey she regular posts on her facebook page. I halved her recipe and added some spices, otherwise I stuck to her instructions – especially the one on using a knife dipped in hot water to cut the pastry!
Granted, Baklava is a little on the sweet side, which is why you need to cut them into small squares, bite-sized, as you will only want a bite or two. But what a bite it is: the syrupy base, followed by crunchy pistachios and crisp and flaky pastry. Lemon juice and the addition of aromatic spices make this the perfect finish to any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean-inspired meal. Oh, and please forgive me for posting quite so many pictures this time – it’s actually really easy to make but it does look stunning at every step of the way!
Turkish Baklava (makes ca. 32 pieces)
For the syrup:
- 180ml water
- 200g sugar
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- the juice of 1 lemon
For the pastry:
- 175g unsalted butter
- 270g filo pastry
- 150g pistachios, chopped
- 4 tbs double cream
In a medium-size pot, bring the water and sugar to boil. Keep boiling it for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat slightly and keep it simmering for another 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cinnamon and cloves and let it cool down. You might want to pour the syrup into a different dish to speed up the process.
Preheat your oven to 190C / 375 F. Melt the butter and use a little to grease a medium-sized oven dish (mine is ca. 37x22cm/15×8 in). Fold out the filo sheets and cut them to size, which will give you an idea of what size of a dish you’ll need. I cut the sheets into thirds to fit mine. Place the cut sheets on two equal piles.Place two sheets into the greased dish, then brush them with a little butter. Add two more sheets, brushing them with a little more butter. Continue until you have finished the the first pile of filo.
Drizzle the cream on the sheet, then spread the pistachios evenly on top of the sheet, keeping around 2 tbs to decorate the finished pastry. Cover with two sheets of filo, which you brush with butter. Continue until you have used up all the sheets. Finish by brushing the last layer with butter.
Using a big and sharp knife, dipped in hot water, to cut the pastry into small rectangles or squares. Only cut down to the layer of pistachios: you only want the top half of the pastry to rise.
Place the dish into the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 160C / 325F and bake it for another 30 minutes or until golden brown. Then remove it and leave it to cool for around 10 minutes.
Cut the pastry a second time along the lines, this time all the way through. Add the lemon juice to the syrup, then pour it carefully along the lines: you want the bottom to soak up the syrup whilst keeping the top sheets flaky and crisp.