Gorgeous Tasting Baklava!
This year in Iceland, I’m adding a touch of Greece to my festive baking for Christmas with yummy Kourabiedes and a gorgeous tasting sweet Baklava . . . made with layers of delicate phyllo pastry with a mixture of nuts, sugar and spices in the middle and once baked, soaked in a fragrant honey syrup . . . that I just love.
One can find many variations of Baklava throughout the Mediterranean region but I always make mine with chopped walnuts and almonds . . . according to my late husband’s Greek family tradition!
Many think that Baklava is difficult to make but in reality it’s relatively simple as long as you are not intimidated by working with phyllo dough. I always say, practice makes perfect and once you get the hang of it, working with phyllo is really easy!
Filling 200 g (8 oz) coarsely chopped walnuts 100 g peeled and coarsely chopped almonds 150 g fine sugar 2 full tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp ground nutmeg 1 packet (500g ) phyllo dough 200 g melted unsalted butter Whole cloves
1cup water (2 dl)
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cup honey (450 g)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 - 4 cloves
2 lemon slices + 2 orange slices
First make the syrup:
In a medium sized saucepan combine the water, sugar and honey and bring to boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and add the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, lemon and orange slices and let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Make the filling: In a large bowl mix all the ingredients of the filling and set aside.
Take out a baking tin or dish 23 x 32 cm (9 x 13 inch) and brush with melted butter. Then line the pan with 6 phyllo sheets, brushing each individual sheet with melted butter. Now, spread 1/3 of the filling evenly over the pastry sheet and cover the filling with another 2 phyllo pastry sheets, each brushed with butter. Again, spread 1/3 of filling and add 2 more buttered pastry sheets. Finally, add the rest of the filling and top with 6 phyllo pastry sheets brushed with melted butter.
With a sharp knife, trim the edges of your Baklava, if necessary, and then cut into diamond shapes. First cut through the pastry layers on the long side and then cut from the corner of the baking pan to form diamond shapes.
Pierce the center of each diamond with a clove and bake in a pre-heated oven , 175 C ( 350 F), for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown. If the top of your Baklava is browning too quickly, cover with some aluminum foil.
When baked, remove from oven and let rest for about 3 - 5 minutes. Pour the cooled syrup evenly over the hot Baklava and set aside at room temperature for at least 4 - 6 hours or overnight to allow pastry to absorb the syrup.
Do not cover the Baklava with anything as this will make your pastry soggy.
Yield: 12 - 24 sized pieces ( depends on what size pieces you like to serve).
Baklava is always best made one day in advance and it is one of the best desserts for a party. It does not need to be refrigerated for 24 hours, but if you should have some left over or if you would like to make your Baklava a few days in advance, then I would recommend you refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before serving.
Baklava can be frozen but it is never as good as when eaten fresh.
Baklava can be served with vanilla ice-cream but that is of course optional!
© Chef Karitas - December 2021