We made a few small tweaks to the classic recipe to season it to our liking: we scented the honey syrup with orange blossom water and reduced the amount of it poured over the dessert as baklava can often be cloyingly sweet. We serve this dessert with thickened yoghurt and crushed pistachios. The idea here is to dip each diamond of baklava into the yoghurt and then to dip the yoghurt into even more crushed nuts. The yoghurt balances out the sweet richness of the pastry while the nuts add a textural crunch which the nuts inside of the baklava itself lack as they have been soaked in syrup. This recipe is designed for a small 12 cm pie pan but can be scaled up as needed.
18 sheets of filo pastry
75g melted unsalted butter
2g orange blossom water
1. Begin by buttering the bottom of your pie dish liberally with melted butter.
2. Cut your filo pastry to fit the size of the dish. Lay down a sheet of filo into the pie dish. Add another layer of filo on top of the first and drizzle lightly with melted butter, about half a tablespoon.
3. Repeat three times until you have 6 layers of filo, buttering every other layer. Add a layer of nuts using 1/3rd of your nut mixture.
4. Add another two layers of filo, buttering each layer lightly.
5. Add another 1/3rd of your nut mixture and top with another two sheets of filo, buttering both sheets.
6. Add the remainder of your nut mixture and top with 6 more layers of filo, only buttering every other sheet as in step 2.
7. Finish by buttering the top layer of filo well and refrigerating the pie dish until the butter has hardened.
8. Once hardened, cut the baklava into diamonds and bake at 180°c for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top layer has browned nicely.
9. Make the syrup by dissolving sugar and salt in water over medium heat. Once dissolved, remove from the heat. Add the honey and orange blossom water to the syrup and stir to dissolve.
10. Once browned nicely, allow the baklava to cool for 5 minutes and drizzle the syrup over the top of it to coat.
11. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve with clotted or strained yoghurt and crushed pistachios.
For the thickened yoghurt, take good quality Greek yoghurt and squeeze out some of the excess moisture using a sheet of cheesecloth or food safe kitchen towel. The yoghurt can be allowed to hang in the fridge for several days to create labneh, a versatile, thickened yoghurt preparation which can be used for spreads and a number of different kinds of mezze.
This recipe was taken from our Greece & Turkey course and featured on First magazine's June edition.