Baklava, Middle Eastern Pastry Dessert recipe

Baklava

I’ve already said it on more than one occasion, but I’ll never stop repeating it: one of the great pleasures of traveling is coming back home with a luggage full of local products and new flavors and recipes to try. So you can always remember the pleasure of those moments by preparing at home, even with good or bad results, the same dishes. Preparing baklava recipe at home, by the way, is quite simple and, in a few hours, your house will smell like a street in Istanbul or Athens, depending on where you prefer to place the origin of this recipe.

Origin of baklava recipe

I don’t want to hurt anyone sensibility, but actually it seems that the origin of this recipe is pretty ancient and there are evidences of a preparation made of thin layers of unleavened bread, dried fruits and honey as early as 800 B.C. during the Assyrian empire.

But the recipe of baklava, as we know it today, could have been created in Turkey during the Ottoman empire and then modified in Greece. As a matter of fact there are many interpretations of baklava throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

At the base of all variations, however, there are always the very thin layers of phyllo (or filo) dough, dried fruit (which can be either one kind, such as pistachios, or a mix of walnuts, almonds and pistachios) and honey, the other fundamental ingredient.

Easy-peasy baklava recipe

To make my life a lot easier and simpler, I purchased ready-made phyllo dough. Someday I will try to prepare this fundamental and basic dough, but it takes great skillfullness to roll the sheets of phyllo so thin that they are transparent. Because this is the secret of the baklava recipe: a layering of about 20 layers of crispy and very thin dough. A good challenge of rolling pin, in short!

For now, let’s make it with what the supermarket offers us.

INGREDIENTS for a baking pan of 17×27 cm (6 servings)

  • 300 g of rectangular phyllo (filo) dough (7 sheets in my package)
  • 100 g of unsalted butter
  • 100 g of peeled almonds
  • 100 g of walnut kernels
  • 70 g of pistachios (unsalted)
  • 40 g of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

FOR SYRUP

  • 100 ml of water
  • 80 g of granulated sugar
  • 80 g of acacia or wildflower honey
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Chopped pistachios to decorate


PREPARATION

  1. Prepare the syrup: pour into a saucepan the water, sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and honey and mix well so that the sugar dissolves completely. Put on the heat and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool. If you like, you can also flavor it with a little bit of rose water.
  3. Melt the butter and let it cool.
  4. Boil 300 ml of water and boil the walnut kernels for 3 minutes in order to remove some of the skin that gives the nuts a slightly bitter taste. Drain them on a clean cloth and dry them, rubbing them to remove part of the skin. Let the walnuts cool down.
  5. In a blender, blend the almonds, walnuts, pistachios, 40 g of sugar and cinnamon until the mixture is fairly fine and smooth.
  6. Cut the phyllo dough sheets into 17 x 27 cm rectangles (or the same size of the baking pan you are using), don’t throw away the scraps because you can use them for the intermediate layers. In total you will need to provide 20 layers of phyllo dough.
  7. Brush the baking pan evenly with the melted butter, both on the bottom and on the edges, and place a sheet of phyllo dough.
  8. Brush the phyllo sheet with butter as well, covering the entire surface with a light layer.
  9. Continue this way until 4 sheets of phyllo dough overlap and grease the 4th sheet as well.
  10. Cover with one-third of the dried fruit mixture in an even layer.
  11. Cover with 4 more layers of phyllo dough, remembering to brush each layer with butter.
  12. Make a second layer of dried fruit, 4 more sheets of phyllo dough and a final layer of dried fruit. In the intermediate layers, use the phyllo dough scraps as well.
  13. Finish with 8 sheets of dough always greasing each sheet with butter. Brush the surface of the last sheet as well.
  14. Cut the baklava with a sharp knife: make diagonal and parallel lines first in one direction and then in the other in order to obtain diamond-shaped pastries.
  15. Bake at 180 ° C in a static oven for about 25 minutes until the surface is golden brown and the surface layer of phyllo dough will be slightly swollen.
  16. Remove the baklava from the oven and pour the honey syrup into the pan.
  17. Let the baklava cool, sprinkle the surface with some chopped pistachios and serve.

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