Baklava is a crunchy sweet pastry originating from the Ottoman Empire and very popular amongst both Northern and Southern Cypriot communities. It is made from layers of flaky filo pastry and a spicy cinnamon and walnut or pistachio (or a mixture of both) filling and soaked in honey syrup.
Time: 1 ½ hours
Amount: around 30 pieces
- 500g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 60g sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 500g filo pastry
- 180g unsalted butter, melted
- 230g castor sugar
- 300ml lukewarm water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- juice of ½ lemon
- lemon peel
- 2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven on 190?C/375F/gas mark 5.
Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl.
Grease an elongated baking dish. Measure the length of dish, add 2 cm allowance for shrinkage, and cut the filo pastry to this measurement. Brush each layer of the filo pastry with the melted butter and spread it over the base of the container. Repeat this step with 5 layers of pastry.
Spread a thin layer of filling over the filo pastry and repeat step 2 for 3 more layers of filo pastry. Spread another thin layer of filling over the filo pastry and repeat step 2 for 2 more layers of filo pastry. Spread all the remaining filling evenly over the top and cover by repeating step 2 for 8 more layers of filo pastry. Brush the top layer liberally with the melted butter so it will get crisp and golden. Cut the top layers (it is important not to cut through the base) of the filo pastry diagonally or straight. (This will facilitate cutting out the individual pieces later once it is cooked.) Sprinkle the top with water.
Cook for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Lower the heat to 180?C/350F/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 20 minutes or until golden.
In the meantime, prepare the syrup. Heat the sugar, water, cinnamon, lemon juice and peel in a saucepan and mix well until all the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for around 8 minutes. Add the honey and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon peel. Let the syrup cool down so that it is hot but not boiling.
Pour the syrup evenly over the warm dish with the pastry. Let the sweet stand absorbing all the syrup.
Note: For the filling, you can also use pistachios or a combination of both.