Baklava is thin sheets of filo or yufka pastry layered with a richly spiced nut and syrup mixture. This type of sweet is very popular throughout the Middle East and south-eastern Europe, but recipes vary widely, using different ingredients and spices. Turkish baklava, called cevizli baklava, is traditionally made with walnuts and pistachios. Cutting the originally round cake into the classic diamond shapes is a science in itself, but luckily looks don’t affect the taste.
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 500 g (21⁄4 cups) sugar
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- Zest of 1 organic orange, finely grated
- 350 g (3 cups) walnut kernels
- 50 g (1⁄2 cup) green pistachio kernels, chopped
- 250 g (1 cup) butter
- 300 g filo or yufka pastry sheets
Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, star anise and cloves, sugar and 750 ml (3 cups) water to a saucepan and boil for 10 minutes to make a syrup. Season with lemon juice and orange zest and set aside to cool fully. Remove the spices.
Meanwhile, chop the walnuts in a mixer and combine them with the chopped pistachios. Set aside 2 tbsp of the mixture for garnish. Melt the butter. Brusha springform tin (approx. 28 cm Ø) thinly with butter, cover with a sheet of filo pastry and brush again thinly with butter.
Repeat with another pastry sheet, pushing the pastry together somewhat to create little folds for a particularly light baklava. Do this also for the remaining sheets. Cover the tin with alternating layers of 2–3 sheets filo pastry and the nutmixture until all ingredients have been used up. Finish with 2 sheets of pastry and pour over the remaining butter.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Before baking, use a very sharp knife to cut the baklava in the tin into diamond, square or rectangular shapes. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Remove the baklava from the oven. Drizzle generously with the cooled syrup while still hot. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts, leave to cool fully and serve.
Images and recipes from Dining at Dusk by Stevan Paul, photography by Daniela Haug. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99’.