I was inspired to make this wonderful sweet desert while watching one of my favourite chefs Nigel Slater on BBC in his new series which tours the Middle East. Although baklava takes a lot of effort, it is absolutely worth the time. They are sticky and sweet and have so many layers of both texture and flavour. They crunch with every bite and pack a wonderful honey nutty taste. A labor of love for sure, but for your hard work and patience, you will absolutely be rewarded with this delightful treat, for it is fit for a King.
2 boxes of Filo Pastry sheets at room temperature
285g unsalted butter
200g ground almonds
100g chopped mixed nuts
200g chopped pistachios
1 tsp cinnamon
200g granulated sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice half lemon)
Preheat the oven to 160 fan. Now prepare the syrup by adding water, sugar and honey to a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a high heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Now reduce the heat to medium and boil for another 5 minutes, but do not stir. Once it has reached a clear golden colour, your syrup is ready. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool while you prepare your Baklava.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and remove from the hob. Now cut filo sheets so they measure exactly the same size as your baking tray. There were 7 large sheets of filo in each box and I managed to cut each sheet twice to the size my tray. The second set of sheets had two strips to make up an even layer. So in total I managed to cut 28 sheets to size.
Add all the chopped and ground nuts to a bowl but hold back 16g of pistachios to garnish at the end. Add the cinnamon to the nut mixture and mix well.
Brush the bottom of your tray with some of the melted butter. Layer two sheets of filo pastry into tray, then brush top layer with butter. Add two more sheets of filo, then brush with butter and top with a layer of the nut mixture. Now repeat this pattern 5 more times.
2 layers filo, then brush with butter
2 layers filo, then brush with butter and sprinkle a layer of nut mixture on top
Repeat this until finish the nut mix
Complete the baklava with a topping of 4 layers of filo brushed with butter to finish
Now cut down through the filo layers, four rows across and then cut diagonal to give a wonderful diamond effect. You can judge the rows and diagonals depending on the size of your baking tray.
Now bake in the oven at 160 fan oven for approx 30-40 mins until baklava is golden brown and crispy on top.
Now pour the cooled syrup over the hot Baklava. Place the remaining pistachios in a food bag and pound with a rolling pin. Now sprinkle the pistachio over the Baklava. Allow to cool and set completely before serving. Patience is required here as this process will take approx 4-5 hours. It seems a lot but believe me it’s so worth the wait. I left mine to set completely overnight and they taste absolutely divine.