L ike many dishes popularized during the Ottoman Empire, baklava-a dessert or snack made of phyllo pastry, nuts, honey, spices, and a sweet syrup—is associated today with several countries, including Turkey, Greece, Syria, and Lebanon. Baklava’s name comes from the Farsi for “many leaves,” and the pastry was “perfected by royal bakers in the sultan’s palace in Istanbul.
For the baklava:
- 400g of chopped walnuts/pistachios/almond
- 450g phyllo pastry
- 225g butter, melted
- 65g sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3rd tsp ground cloves
- For the syrup:
- 8fl oz water
- 225g sugar
- 4fl oz honey
- 2 tbsps lemon juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 green cardamom (optional)
- finely ground pistachios for garnish
- Lightly grease a 9×13 pan at least 2″ deep and set the oven to 180 C.350F/Gas 4
- Thaw the phyllo dough according to manufacturer’s directions. When thawed, cut the dough in half so the sheets will fit in the pan. Cover with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.
- Place the nuts in a food process and process until the nuts are in small, even sized pieces. Combine with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
- Place a sheet of phyllo dough into the lightly greased tin. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Repeat 7 more times until it is 8 sheets thick, each sheet should be individually buttered. . Cover the sheets with a damp towel while you are working to keep it from drying out. Cut into 24 equal sized squares using a sharp knife. Bake at 180 C for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown, and edges appear slightly crisp.
- While baking, make the syrup. Combine the cinnamon stick, cardamon, sugar, lemon juice, honey, and water in a saucepan. Bring it to the boil, then reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow to cool.
- Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Garnish with some finely crushed pistachios and toasted angel hair if you like.