It’s easier to make baklava at home than you might think

The trick to good baklava is to be quick and careful, Syrian chef Imad Alarnab tells Lauren Taylor

Thursday 13 July 2023 16:30 BST
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Be sure to find proper filo pastry from a Middle Eastern shop for this recipe
Be sure to find proper filo pastry from a Middle Eastern shop for this recipe (Andy Sewell/PA)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

This recipe won’t work with English filo pastry, as it’s too thick; you need to get the proper filo for baklawa that you’ll find in Middle Eastern shops,” says Imad Alarnab.

“The trick to good baklawa is to be quick and careful. Get everything ready around you before you start, including a large, clean tea towel to keep the filo from drying out while you’re making it. This is a pistachio and walnut version, but you can use any nuts you like. I like to use a mix.”

Pistachio and walnut baklawa

Makes: 24-40, depending on preferred size

Ingredients:

150g shelled pistachios

150g walnuts

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp orange blossom water

1 tsp water

100g good-quality ghee

470-500g Turkish, extra-thin filo pastry

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas 3½.

2. Start by toasting the nuts in a large baking tin in a single layer in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Add the sugar, orange blossom water and water, then crush the nuts either using a pestle and mortar or a blender. Be careful if using a blender as you want a very chunky texture, not a fine crumb. The water and sugar should make your nuts delicious and sticky.

3. Melt the ghee in a pan over a low heat and set aside to stay warm. Brush a baking tin (with sides), 35 x 25cm, with a little ghee.

4. Unroll the filo it so it’s flat on the work surface, then lay the prepared baking tin on top of the filo and cut around the edge, so your filo is the exact same size. Remove the excess edges (use in another recipe), then place the cut filo in a clean tea towel to keep it from drying out (you should have at 24 layers of filo).

5. Place half the filo layers in the greased tin, then sprinkle with all the nuts. Spread them out into an even layer and pat them down a little. Now top with the other half of the filo layers, and, with the back of a spoon, tuck in the edges of the filo, so that they curl in neatly down the sides of the tin. Working quickly so the filo doesn’t dry out, slice your baklawa into diamonds. I prefer them small, and make 40, but you can choose any size you like here.

6. If your ghee has cooled, reheat it again to melt, pour it over everything, then bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden on top.

‘Imad’s Syrian Kitchen’ by Imad Alarnab (HQ, £26).

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