Is there anything more hedonistic than a slice of Baklava? The gold, frankincense and myrrh of desserts. The history of Baklava is rich and disputed; a national dessert claimed by many different nations with a rich history in the Ottoman kitchens. To read more about the origins of the delicious dessert, this summary of a romantic story by Alexandra M. Lord is a lovely read. 

Here is my recipe for my baklava which I served with cardamom cream at the end of a Persian-inspired meal for clients not so long ago – the perfect end to a meal with a pot of fresh mint tea. I find the added citrus takes away some of that toothache inducing sweetness and lifts out the other flavours.

Use a good quality honey if possible with this recipe so you can really taste the individual character of the honey itself. When it comes to nuts, I usually just use whatever I have to hand in the back of the cupboard, however I think the best mix is half walnut for texture, a quarter pistachio for colour and indulgence, a quarter hazelnut for bite and contrast.

Baklava
Baklava

Baklava

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Course: Baking, DessertCuisine: Middle EasternDifficulty: Medium
Servings

20

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes

The gold, frankincense and myrrh of desserts.

Main Ingredients

  • 4 cups mixed nuts, of your choice

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1 tsp orange zest

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 450 g phyllo pastry

  • 1 cup butter

  • Syrup Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 lemon – juice of

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/2 orange – peel of

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Prepare your baking pan by brushing the bottom and sides with melted butter.
  • Pulse the nuts in a food processor with the spices, orange zest and salt until well chopped/ combined.
  • To assemble, place 10 layers of phyllo dough one-by-one on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan, brushing each lightly with butter.
  • Spread 1/5 of the nutty mixture evenly on top (about 2/3 cup).
  • Add another 5 layers of phyllo one-by-one, brushing each with butter, then add another layer of nuts.
  • Add 5 oiled sheets of phyllo, then another layer of nuts. Repeat x 4. Finish off with 10 layers of buttered phyllo sheets. Brush the very top with butter.
  • Bake the baklava for 50 minutes, until golden on the edges and tops.
  • In the meantime, bring all the syrup ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let syrup cool whilst the baklava bakes.
  • Remove the citrus peels and cinnamon stick, and pour the hot syrup evenly over the baklava. 
  • Let the baklava cool completely at room temperature for 8 hours (uncovered, to prevent sogginess). Serve with whipped coconut cream with cardamom folded into it or vanilla ice cream for a real special touch!

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