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The most famous of Middle Eastern pastries. The word Baklava is Turkish for 'lozenge.' The dessert, however is found in Greek, Turkish and Arab sweet shops and the variations on the theme are countless. Not only can it be filled with fruit and nuts, but also with a semolina thickened cream, fruit or even chocolate! The most common Baklava is made from walnuts and almonds. Some syrups are made with clove and cinnamon, others include lemon juice or my personal favourite, flower waters.

The traditional Baklava is said that it must have 40 layers of pastry, to represent the 40 days of lent. But who's counting?


For the syrup;

300g caster sugar
100ml water
1tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 strip of lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1tblsp orange flower water

For the Baklava;

100g walnuts, coarsely ground
100g almonds, coarsely ground
50g pistachio nuts, coarsely ground
3tblsp caster sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
250g unsalted butter, melted and clarified
32 sheets of filo pastry


Pre heat the oven to 180c

For the syrup;

In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, lemon strip, cinnamon and cloves. bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 10mins. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the orange flower water and set aside to cool and allow the flavours to mellow.

For the Baklava;

In a bowl mix together the ground nuts, sugar and ground cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter on the bottom and sides of a 30 x 38 x 7.5cm dish. One by one start brushing each sheet of filo with the melted butter. Lay 8 sheets of filo into the bottom of the prepaired dish. Top with a third of the nut mixture. Layer 8 more filo sheets on top, buttering each sheet as you go, then half of the remaining nut mixture followed by 8 more buttered sheets, the last of the nut mix and end with 8 buttered filo sheets on top. Butter the top layer very generously. Cover the dish and refrigerate for about 30mins. This allows the butter to set and makes it easier to cut the pastry before baking.
When ready to bake remove the Baklava from the fridge and using a sharp knife, cut the Baklava into 25 diamond shapes.
Bake for 30mins in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 150c and bake until the top is golden, 15-20mins.
Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cooled syrup over the hot Baklava. Let cool completely.

To serve recut the pastry with a sharp knife and serve with tea or coffee.


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