Friday, 5 October 2018

Honey Walnut Baklava.



Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

I am having a bit of a Turkish food moment these days.
Starting with perhaps the most iconic Turkish sweet, baklava.
But don't worry, I'm also loving savoury Turkish food. Today as I type, I have a batch of gozleme dough rising in the kitchen ready to thinly roll and fill with greens and cheese. If they turn out well, I will share them with you. Which other Turkish dishes should I try next?

Let's turn our attention back to this glorious tray of baklava though. Today, I'm showing you how to make a honey walnut version. Simply because walnut baklava is my favourite. You could sub them with pistachios, almonds, or cashews if you prefer. Or do a mixture of them all.

I keep my nut mixture really simple. Walnuts are pulsed until finely chopped in a food processor before being flavoured with cinnamon. You could add sugar to them but I found that the honey syrup which is poured over the baked pastries is sweet enough.
The first time I made baklava, I left the honey out of the syrup. Immediately, I missed its flavour and so this time, I have made it one of the main ingredients in the sticky syrup. The pastry that holds the nuts and syrup together is filo. I used a ready-made pastry that I made sure to defrost properly. However, I still fully believe that the best baklava is made with homemade filo. Whether I'll ever have the patience or time for that, is another matter entirely. Happy baklava making to you!

A Simple List of Ingredients:

For the Syrup:
1. Caster Sugar
2. Honey
3. Lemon Juice
4. Water

For the Baklava:
1. Filo Pastry
2. Butter
3. Walnuts
4. Ground Cinnamon

Bismillah, let's begin!

The most important ingredient in the baklava is probably the filo pastry. You can make your own or make your life easier and buy it. I used a mixture of Asda own-brand filo and the Jus-Rol version. I highly recommend the Jus-Rol as it is better quality.


You'll need a total of 40 Filo Pastry Sheets. Defrost them well if they have been in the freezer. See the full written recipe at the bottom of the post for more details.
Each pastry sheet needs to be the same size as the tin you're using. I used this 9x13 inch (22x33cm) rectangle baking tin which I greased well. My filo sheets were much bigger than the tin so I trimmed them to fit. Also, at this point get the oven onto Gas Mark 3 or 160C.

Before we assemble the baklava, let's quickly make the honey syrup. We will pour it over the baklava once it's baked but it needs time to cool which is why we're making it now.

Into a deep saucepan, measure out:
220g Caster Sugar
150ml Honey
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
155ml Water

Stir and place over a medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture feels light. Stir every now and then.

Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and boil gently for 4 minutes without stirring.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool whilst you assemble the baklava.

Next, let's prep the nuts. I love walnut baklava so that's what I used. Feel free to sub them for the same amount of pistachios, almonds or cashew nuts. Or even a mix of different nuts. I used 455g Walnuts. If you don't want too many nuts in the baklava, reduce this amount by 1/4 or even 1/2. As one of you told me, less nuts result in a lighter baklava for a more authentic Turkish taste.

Using a food processor, pulse the nuts until they are finely chopped. You could take them further to an almost powder if you prefer but this texture was ok for me.

I flavoured my walnuts with ground cinnamon. You could also add other spices like ground ginger, ground cloves, ground cardamom, etc. Or leave the nuts plain!

Add 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon to the chopped nuts and give them a stir.

Time to the melt the butter! Each layer of filo pastry is brushed with butter and with 40 sheets of filo, it's a lot of butter. It is what makes the baklava so crispy and golden in the end.

In a saucepan, melt 280g Butter. You can use salted or unsalted.

Time to start assembling the baklava. The main principle is to place a sheet of filo pastry into the tin and brush it with the melted butter. Place the next sheet on top and brush. Continue according to the recipe.

Remember, the filo pastry sheets should be cut to the size of your tin. I used two brands of filo and both were different sizes. The Asda ones were smaller than my tin and as you can see above, I had to patch them up with extra pieces. The Jus-Rol ones were too big for my tin and I had to slice them to fit.

For the first layer, put 10 filo sheets in the tin, one at a time brushing each one with the melted butter as you go.

Then, sprinkle over about 100g of the walnut mixture. I used about 3/4 cup using a measuring cup.

Then top with 5 filo sheets, brushing each one with melted butter.

Add another layer of nuts - about 100g again.

Repeat this 4 more times before finishing with a final 10 layers of filo sheets. Brush the top with melted butter as well.

Here is the full order, from the start:
10 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
10 buttered filo sheets + brush the top with butter

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces. I went with diamonds. Make sure the knife goes all the way down to the bottom of the tin.

Bake the baklava for 1 hour and 15 minutes at Gas Mark 3 or 160C until the baklava is a deep golden colour.

Once the baklava is out of the oven, pour over the syrup that we made earlier.

Let the baklava cool completely. I left mine uncovered at room temperature, overnight.

Once the baklava is completely cool, the syrup will have all soaked into the pastry leaving it really sweet and juicy.

Time to get it out of the tin!

The baklava will keep for a few days. I find it gets better in flavour as it sits.

Serve the baklava as it is or drizzled with chocolate or sprinkled with chopped nuts. It's lovely on its own but can also be eaten with thick cream or yoghurt to help cut through the sweetness. For me, a simple coffee is perfect with it. Enjoy!

Honey Walnut Baklava.

sticky, sweet layers of crispy filo pastry and cinnamon walnuts.

Prep Time: About 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Bake Time: About 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Serves: Makes about 25 large pieces of baklava.

Ingredients

For the Syrup
220g Caster Sugar
150ml Honey
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
155ml Water

For the Baklava
40 sheets Filo Pastry, defrosted if frozen (see the recipe below)
280g Butter, melted
455g Walnuts (can be reduced by 1/2 or 1/4 for a lighter baklava)
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Defrost the filo:
You'll need a total of 40 sheets that are cut to fit the tin. I used a 9x13 inch (22x33cm) rectangle tin. I used a mixture of Asda's own brand filo and Jus Rol filo sheets. The Jus Rol is much better quality and I would reccomend that you use it. The sheets are larger than the tin so I cut them to fit. Each box contains 7 sheets of filo and so you would need 6 boxes. BUT, before you go out and buy 6 boxes, remember that you can use the off-cuts of the filo sheets too. Just patch them together to make one sheet. So, all in all I would say 4 boxes of Jus Rol will do. If you end up not having enough, leaving out a layer or two of pastry won't ruin the baklava.

Make the syrup:
In a deep saucepan, heat together the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and water. Let it come to a boil over a medium-high heat. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture feels light. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and boil gently for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool down whilst you get on with assembling the baklava.

Before baking:
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 or 160C. Grease a 9x13 inch (22x33cm) rectangle baking tin or dish.

Prepare the baklava filling:
Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Put into a mixing bowl and stir in the ground cinnamon. Cut the filo sheets to fit your tin. Keep the sheets covered with a damp tea towel at all times.

Assemble the baklava:
Put 10 filo sheets in the tin, one at time, brushing each one with the melted butter as you go. Sprinkle over about 100g of the walnut mixture - this is about 3/4 measuring cup.
Top with 5 more filo sheets, brushing each one with melted butter. Then, add another layer of the nuts - about 100g again. Repeat 4 more times.
Finish with a final layer of 10 filo sheets, each one brushed with melted butter. Brush the top with butter.

The baklava order again:
10 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
5 buttered filo sheets + about 100g walnuts
10 buttered filo sheets + brush the top with butter

Cut and bake:
Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces. Make sure the knife goes all the way down to the bottom of the tin. I cut mine into 4 long strips and then cut them into diamond shapes. See the photos for more!
Bake the baklava for 1 hour and 15 minutes at Gas Mark 3 or 160C until the baklava is a deep golden brown colour and crispy.

Time for the syrup:
Pour the syrup all over the hot baklava. Let the baklava cool completely. I left mine uncovered at room temperature overnight. This allows time for the syrup to soak in properly.

Serve:
I served my baklava as it was. But you may drizzle each piece with melted chocolate or sprinkle over more chopped nuts.

Recipe Notes
  • If you're not a walnut fan, feel free to sub them for pistachios, almonds, or cashew nuts. Or you can even use a mixture of them all.
  • If you don't want too many nuts in the baklava, reduce the amount by 1/4 or even 1/2.

Keep me in your duas please, and enjoy your baklava!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!


Spice Enthusiast

3 comments

  1. Assalam u Alaikum! Hope you are well.
    My favourite dessert from the Turkish cuisine, yummm! I have stayed in Turkey for 3 years when I was a student, Turkish cuisine is my favourite, simple ingredients yet a wealth of taste :)
    The turkish baklava does not have honey or cinnamon in it, and the nuts are in one layer, maximum 2 layers. This makes it much lighter and makes the filo layers really visible. Maybe you would like to try that version one day, to get a more authentic Turkish taste.
    Some foods from the Turkish cuisine, Yaprak sarma (Grapevine leaves stuffed with either a rice mixture or a mincemeat mixture), biber dolmasi (bell peppers stuffed with a rice and bulghur mixture, and some even make it with a mincemeat mixture), Sigara borek (cheese and parsley stuffed thin cigarette like spring rolls which are made with filo then fried), of course the yummy Gozleme; then their main dishes like Izmir kofte, sulu kofte (meatballs in a gravy which also has potatoes), Turlu (beef and veggies cooked together in a thick gravy, yummm!); to cool off there is cacik (yoghurt drink with cucumber and mint in it - they insist the Greeks stole it from them and made their Tzatziki :)) ; some desserts like muhallebi (like our Indian phirni) and sutlac (like our indian kheer).
    Hope you don't mind my suggestion about the Turkish baklava and hope you try and like these foods above.
    Have a lovely day :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wa alaikumus salaam Hafsa. Thank you for you lovely message. I had a lot of fun reading through all of your Turkish food suggestions. Cannot wait to give them a go in my own kitchen. I will definitely try your suggestion next time regarding less nuts. I think it will definitely make the baklava lighter and crispier. Thank you so much once again.

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    2. Dear Faatimah, I am so glad to read your response :) I follow all your posts and am hoping you make videos on YouTube soon :) Do let me know in case you need more Turkish food suggestions :)

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