Baklava is a traditional Mediterranean sweet dessert (I don't think you can call it a pudding). Here is my version.
a pack of filo pastry
small spoon cinnamon
syrup or honey
baking paper (optional)
time in oven: 25 minutes
defrost pastry if necessary
layer and butter the pastry
- Filo pastry comes in a pack. It may be frozen, so you will need to defrost it.
- Melt the butter in the saucepan. Take it off the heat immediately it melts. Don't let it brown (let alone burn).
- Line the baking tin with baking parchment. This is optional, but will help you lift out the baklava when cooked.
- The filo pastry comes in sheets. They will almost certainly be the wrong size for your tin, so you will need to cut them to size. I suggest scissors for this job. Be careful with handling them, as they are very thin and fragile. It's OK if the cut sheets aren't quite the right size, as you can overlap them a bit.
- Put one sheet of filo pastry in the bottom of the tin. Brush melted butter over it. I think this would be quite a tough job without a pastry brush, as the butter should cover the pastry, yet you want as thin a layer of butter as possible. You certainly don't want it swimming in butter.
- Carry on with sheet, then butter until you've used half the pastry.
- Shake the chopped nuts over the pastry you've prepared, and sprinkle cinnamon over the nuts. Alternatively, you can mix the cinnamon with the nuts first, before spreading them on the pastry.
- Carry on with pastry and butter until you've used up the pastry. Make sure there's a layer of butter on the top layer.
- Cut the pastry in the tin into the pieces which you will want at the end. Triangles are a traditional shape, but it's up to you. As you are cutting raw filo pastry, covered with butter, and nuts falling out of it, this can be a little tricky (see below for alternatives). It is not essential to get right to the bottom layer, but get below the nut layer, and as far as you can.
- Put the tin in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Check it to see if the top is brown. If not, cook for a bit longer, perhaps at a higher temperature.
- When cooked, while still hot, pour syrup over the baklava. I suggest using syrup from the or if you have it. If not, you can make a plain syrup (see those recipes for details), syrup from some tinned fruit (making sure you use fruit in syrup rather than fruit juice) or honey. Whatever you use must be very sweet! The amount is really up to you. The baklava will absorb a lot of syrup. It sinks to the bottom, which become slightly soggy. If you feel this is really too much, you can use less. But you must have some or it won't be a baklava.
- Baklava is eaten cold. In the Mediterranean, it is often eaten with strong coffee in cafés, but you can eat it as the sweet course of a meal.
- You can try other spice instead of or as well as cinnamon. Nothing too challenging, though.
- You can try different types of chopped nuts. The common chopped nuts are hazel nuts and almonds. You can also try walnuts, pecans or even pistachios, which are lovely but rather expensive. You may need to chop them yourself.
- Above, I describe cutting up the baklava before cooking. This can be a little tricky, as the filo is delicate, and by this time it's sitting in a tin which may be non-stick, so doesn't really like shark knives digging into it! But it is the best method. If you prefer not to, or or forget (which I often do!) then you can cut it up after cooking. Cutting before cooking does seem to help it to cook more evenly and helps the syrup to drain into the baklava. You can cut the baklava up immediately after cooking it, but it is very crisp at this point and the top tends to shatter. Or you can cut it after pouring on the syrup, and after it's cooled down, just before eating.
© Jo Edkins 2007 -