From Tallulah’s Kitchen: Baklava

Hello my fellow foodies and welcome to another recipe.

I hope you all had a splendid time with your nearest and dearest over Christmas and managed to relax and make the most of the festive season. This month I would like to share with you my recipe for a little sweet treat and bring a little sticky naughtiness into what can be a tricky month. But I have to warn you, dear reader, this may not be recipe for you if you have started the New Year on a healthy eating regime!

I used a 20cm square, deep, non stick tin, lined with foil backed parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 160°C
For the pastry
• 50g whole almonds
• 50g pistachio nuts
• 50g macadamia nuts
• 100g walnuts pieces
• 50g caster sugar
• Finely grated zest of one orange
• Finely grated zest of one lemon
• Finely grated zest of one lime
• Pinch of cinnamon and mixed spice
• 175g butter-melted
• 250g filo pastry ( or 12 sheets)
For the syrup
• 150g honey
• 150g caster sugar
• Juice of one orange
• Juice of one lemon
• Juice of one lime
• Half teaspoon of orange blossom water

Let’s begin by making the pastry part of the dish. So, add the nuts, sugar, zests and pinch of spice to the food processor and blitz them all together until they are of a texture similar to damp sand. Set this aside while you prepare the filo pastry, but before you start to work with the filo pastry get everything you need to hand. Make sure your tin is buttered and lined, the nut mixture is prepared and the oven is on to heat up – the longer the sheets of filo are exposed to air the less flexible and more brittle they become. The other thing to remember is to work in a tidy manner – if you “splash” the butter around as you are brushing, it can stick to the preparation surface and tear.

So, take a deep breath and brush a little butter over the base of the parchment then layer up 6 sheets of filo pastry into the tin, folding them individually to fit and brushing each sheet of filo with butter as you go.

Now pour on the nuts and sugar mix, taking care to spread the mixture to the edges; you want an even layer but resist the temptation to “pat down” the mixture. Next top with four layers of filo, again brushing on butter between the layers and folding to fit. For the final two layers, cut these to fit exactly to give a tidy finish to the top and generously butter the top layer. Next score through the first few layers and mark out the final portion size. This helps with even cooking, the absorption of the syrup and also filo pastry is difficult to cut to a tidy finish when it is cooked. I cut 5×5 giving me 25 portions that are a little more than bite size but not overly large as this can be a little sweet for some. Now pop this into the oven for around one hour until it is golden brown, slightly puffed up and crisp, which gives us plenty of time to make the syrup.

So, place the sugar and honey in a pan. Pour the orange, lemon, and lime juice and the orange blossom water into a measuring jug and make up to 300mls with the addition of water. I have made this with all juice before which I find gives a far fruitier flavoured Baklava. Some people like to add Rose water or different spices like Cardamom, the choice is yours. Once you have the correct amount of your chosen liquid strain it onto the sugar and honey and slowly bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes, and remove from the heat and leave to stand.

When the Baklava has been baking for an hour and is crispy, has puffed up slightly and is golden brown pour the hot syrup all over the top pastry layer. Do not be alarmed, it will look like there is way too much liquid but the pastry now needs to stand for at least 6 hours to soak up. It will bubble for a while after the syrup is first added this is normal and to be expected!
When you are ready to serve the Baklava lift out from the tin, use a sharp knife and cut through the scored lines into neat pieces and enjoy.

Until next time dear reader..

Tallulah Le Fey x