What’s the best baklava you’ve ever had? Was a Greek or Lebanese baklava? Come to think of it – is it baklava or baklawa? A couple of years ago on a visit to Melbourne I had the most delicious baklava ever from a Greek stall at the Queen Victoria markets. The flavours had melded together beautifully, it was crisp and not too sweet.
This recipe, from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent comes close. I think the difference is the clarified butter. Clarified butter is easy to make at home. Here is a good explanation of how to clarify butter or you can find it in most supermarkets.
Baklava is a great do ahead recipe. In fact, it tastes better the next day. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a least a week. Greg says to store it a room temperature but I don’t know about your place but here in tropical North Queensland nothing lasts very long left in our steamy room temperature.
Which is your favourite baklava shop?
Baklava adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange flower water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons orange flower water
340g/3 sticks unsalted butter, clarified
500g/1lb phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
Make the syrup: combine the sugar and water in a pan and set it over a medium heat. Bring it to the boil stirring occasionally. Then cover with a lid, reduce the heat (so it doesn’t boil over) and simmer for 3 minutes. Uncover, keep it simmering and cook until the syrup reaches 95C or 200F. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orangeflower water and the lemon juice. Allow to cool and refrigerate it. It should be a pourable consistency not as thick as honey. Add a little water if it is too thick. Keep refrigerated.
Make the filling: process walnuts in the food processor in batches until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the sugar and orangeflower water. Set it aside until you are ready.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Brush a 33 x 22 cm baking pan (13 x 9 inch) with clarified butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet in the pan and brush lightly with butter, fold in the overhanging edges of dough. Repeat again until you have used half of the dough. Sprinkle the walnut filling evenly over the pastry. Then repeat the layering and buttering of the remaining phyllo. With a sharp knife cut through the pastry right down to the base forming diamonds or whatever shape and size you want the finished pieces to be. Pour any remaining butter into the cuts.
Bake the baklawa for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 150C/300F until brown and crispy, another 45 to 60 minutes. Take the baklawa out of the oven and immediately pour over the cold syrup. Let it stand for 2 or 3 hours, even overnight, before serving