Baklava is well known in Syria, Turkey and throughout the Middle East. It is particularly popular to eat at celebrations.
For the baklava
- 1 packet filo pastry (40 sheets)
- 250g butter or margarine
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil
- 150g unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
For the syrup
- 3 cups (750ml) water
- 3 cups (600g) sugar (fairtrade)
- juice of 1/2 lemon (organic)
- crushed pistachio nuts or desiccated coconut
- Prepare the filling before cutting the filo pastry to size as it dries very quickly. Keep it covered with a slightly damp tea towel.
- In a small saucepan, set over low heat and melt the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the oil. Set aside.
- Place the pistachios in a food processor and pulse several times to crush into small pieces. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- You can use a round or square/rectangular non-stick baking pan about 20–25cm wide. Divide the pastry into two stacks of 20 sheets each and cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Place the baking pan upside down on top of a stack of 20 filo sheets, trim the filo to size. Repeat with the second stack. Cover the pastry with a slightly damp tea towel so it does not dry out.
- Brush the bottom and sides of the baking pan with butter, making sure you get right into the corners.
- To assemble the baklava: place a filo square or disc on a flat, clean work surface and brush with the butter/oil mixture. Place another sheet on top and again brush with butter/oil mix. Repeat with the remaining filo discs/squares. Place the stack into the baking pan. Spread the nuts on top.
- Brush the remaining stack of filo the same way and place into the baking pan.
- Use a sharp knife to cut through the filo layers in parallel lines to make diamond shaped pieces.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the filo is golden and crisp.
- While the baklava is baking make the syrup. Add the water and sugar to a saucepan on medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. When the liquid starts to bubble, stir in the lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the liquid becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Once the baklava has finished baking, remove it from the oven and pour over the syrup to drench the filo. Set aside to cool.
- Serve sprinkled with crushed pistachios or desiccated coconut.
This recipe for baklava was provided by Ahmad on behalf of Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees, a local charity formed in 2017 to help support refugees from Syria resettling in the Sevenoaks district of the UK.