Saturday, 13 June 2009

Baklava - not for the faint-hearted

We have a friend of C's staying for the weekend. On Thursday I decided to make a big tray of Baklava - turned out to be a good thing as by Thursday evening I knew I was coming down with a bad head-cold, and it was great to have something already done for weekend treats. We had some very disappointing baklava in Paris, bought at the market on Rue de Rennes/ bvd Raspail. Then we had some very nice Kataifi when we happened to find a little Greek deli near the Sacre Coeur - and got to pull out some rusty Greek, too.
For some reason the Asian and Indian shops don't seem to have the regular cinnamon quills at the moment, just what is very definitely bark. Slightly different taste, but not bad...

3/4 lb mixed nuts - I use about 4 oz each pistachios (unsalted), pecans and almonds. It's really a matter of personal preference.
1 oz granulated sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon (more is my preference)
1/2 lb butter
1 lb filo pastry. ( I use 2 packs of Jus-Rol, 6 sheets in each pack.
1 lb granulated sugar
3/4 pt water
2 large strips of lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
6 tblsp honey - use a good one, the flavour will be noticeable.
I have a large turkey roasting tin I got when I was catering for an outdoor activity weekend. It's the same width as the filo sheets, but not as long, so I lay one down and then fold it back about a third of the way.
Chop the nuts finely, leaving a few more coarsely chopped for texture. Add the single ounce of sugar and cinnamon and stir together.
Melt the butter.
Spread about 5 layers of pastry in the roasting tin, brushing each layer lightly with butter. Continue for another 4 layers or so, alternating nuts with each layer, and continuing to brush with butter. Finish off with another 5 or 6 layers of pastry, keeping the top layer as perfect as possible. With a very sharp knife, mark into diamond shapes (about 2" each side). Pour any remaining butter over, and cook in a preheated oven at 170C for half an hour. Reduce the heat to about 150, and continue cooking for another half hour or so, till a good golden brown colour.
While it is cooking, make a syrup by combining the water, sugar, lemon rind and cinnamon stick together in a large pan. Bring to the boil, boil (not simmer) for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel, and stir in the honey.
Remove the baklava from the oven when it's ready, and while it's still hot, pour over the syrup. Allow to cool before serving.
To go with this, here are a couple of photos from Corfu last year.

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