Baklava

Makes 25-30

I really have to be in the mood for these Mediterranean biscuits as they are just so sweet. But once they are plonked in front of me with a cup of Turkish coffee, my resistance waivers.

225g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
18 sheets of filo pastry
225g mixed pistachios, blanched almonds and walnuts, roughly chopped
2tbsp granulated sugar
1tsp ground cardamom

For the syrup

350g granulated sugar
300ml water
1tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp orange blossom water

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Grease a 16-18cm x 28cm non-stick baking tray with butter or line with baking parchment. Take a sheet of the filo pastry, place it in the tray and brush with the melted butter. Place a second sheet on top of the first and brush with butter again before repeating with a further 8 sheets of pastry, ensuring you cover the pastry you are not using with a f damp cloth to prevent it from drying up.

In a clean bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar and cardamom. Spread three-quarters of the mixture over the pastry in the tray. Layer up the remaining sheets of filo on top of the nut mixture, brushing each sheet with butter as before.

Using the point of a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern into the top layers of the pastry, cutting through into the filling.

Place the baklava in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 150C/gas mark 2 and cook for a further 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

To make the syrup, heat the sugar, water, lemon juice and orange blossom water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the sugar has melted and the liquid is syrupy. Pour the syrup into the slits in the baklava, sprinkle over the remaining nut mixture and leave to cool. Cut into strips or small rectangular or square pieces and serve.

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