Baklava

makes18
1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the syrup

  • 340g of sugar
  • 200ml of water
  • 2 tbsp of rose water, optional

Baklava

  • 250g of filo pastry
  • 170g of butter, melted
  • 250g of walnuts, finely chopped

Method

1
Start with the syrup. Place half of the sugar and half of the water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and cook until the sugar is caramel-scented and lightly golden. Be patient, as at a controlled heat this will take up to 20 minutes. Do not stir the sugar solution while it is bubbling as this may lead to crystallisation
2
When the sugar syrup is just caramelised, add the rest of the water and sugar; be careful as the hot sugar solution may splatter. Resist stirring the syrup while it is still on the heat
3
Leave over a medium flame until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a transparent, golden syrup, this may take up to 5 minutes
4
Add the rose water and let the syrup bubble for a minute longer before decanting into a warm jar, you will be left with about 300ml. Leave the syrup to cool a little, then store in the fridge until the baklava is cooked
5
To assemble the baklava, first preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2
6
Cut the filo sheets in half and then trim to roughly the same size as your tin. Melt the butter, skimming off milk solids as they form
7
Using a pastry brush, paint a little of the melted butter onto the tin; then coat your filo sheets one by one, placing each one neatly into the tin as you go
8
When one third of the sheets have been used (or one half if you have fewer than 24 sheets), put a layer of ground walnuts on top and continue as before. When another third has been used, layer up the rest of your ground walnuts; then top with the remaining buttered filo
9
Using a knife, carefully tuck in any untidy edges and then cut right through the baklava as you wish to serve it, in a grid or diamond pattern. Bake in the oven for 55 minutes
10
When the baklava is hot from the oven - it should be evenly golden brown - pour the cool syrup into the cuts and a little onto the top, reserving a touch for when you’re ready to serve. At this point you may return the baklava to the oven for five minutes, which Claudia Roden says has a magical effect on the texture
11
Leave the baklava to cool before serving or overnight if you can, it tastes even better the next day. To prettify the pastries you may wish to brush a little extra syrup onto the top and scatter with finely chopped walnuts or crystallised rose petals