When on holiday in Corfu this year, we happened upon a very traditional restaurant that was mainly frequented by locals and would have been pretty much impossible to find except via boat. We visited this fabulously authentic restaurant twice, enjoying the food as much as the sea view over a rickety wooden pontoon. At the end of each meal, we were presented with the most delicious baklava – a dessert widely recognised as the national dessert of those countries that made up the Ottoman Empire. I’ve always liked baklava but this homemade version knocked any shop-bought pretender into touch. It was the family’s grandmother whose job it was to create the dessert for the restaurant’s guests each day. I vowed there and then to do my best to replicate the gorgeousness that was that dessert and this comes pretty close. It’s easy to make but sooooooooo bad for you!!!!
What you need…
1 x 20 cm round baking tin, lightly buttered
6 filo pastry sheets, cut in half to create 12 squares (approx 25cm)
150g chopped nuts – walnuts, pistachios and almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
125g (!!!!!) butter, melted
for the syrup
Zest of one lemon
1 cinnamon stick
What to do…
Pre-heat oven to 150°c / 300°f / gas 2
Melt the butter over a low heat, being careful not to burn it.
In the baking tin, lay one layer of filo pastry, then sprinkle melted butter over it. Repeat this process until you have used six sheets of pastry. You will have corners of pastry hanging over the baking dish – roughly fold them in and sprinkle them with butter.
In a bowl, mix together the chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Sprinkle half the mixture over the filo sheets and then add five more layers of filo pastry and sprinkled butter until you have just one sheet of pastry remaining. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture on top of the pastry layers and then top with the final pastry sheet – don’t forget to sprinkle over the butter. Again, fold in the overhanging corners and sprinkle with more butter.
Place the baklava in the fridge for 15 minutes to make it easier to cut into portions. Remove from the fridge and, using a sharp knife cut the pastry all the way down into eight portions.
Place the baklava on a low shelf in the oven and bake for 1½ hours, until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Into a small saucepan, mix together all the ingredients and bring to the boil. Boil for about 2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t stir the syrup – it can go lumpy if you do. As soon as the baklava is baked, ladle over the some of the hot syrup. Once it has been absorbed, ladle over some more and repeat this process until no more can be absorbed – there’s usually a bit left in the pan but rather too much than too little!
Let the baklava cool down and serve – to die for (literally, with all that butter and sugar!) Simply divine!
A grandmother in Corfu and a lot of Internet research!
Very easy. The outcome far outweighs any effort anyway!