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Greek Recipes: Baklava ( phyllo pastry with nuts and honey)

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Baklava

Baklawa is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrop or honey. It dates back to ancien Mesapotamia, and was mentioned in a Mesopotamian cookbook on walnut dishes around the 13th century.
One of the oldest known recipes for a sort of proto-baklava is found in a Chinese cookbook written in 1330 under the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty  under the name güllach.
The recipe is found in lots of diverent countries in Asia but also around the mediteranian and is often prepared for festive celebrations and also to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
It now is an all time favorite in Greece and will proof to please anyone who has a sweet tooth.

Ingredients:

– 400g walnuts, finely chopped
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 150-200g butter, melted
– 18 sheets phyllo pastry

For syrup:

400ml water
400g sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4-5 tablespoons honey or any other syrup ( Maple is very nice )

Step 1:

Select a large oblong roasting tray, about 35 x 25 cm.
If the phyllo pastry is frozen, you will need to slightly defrost it, but keep a clean dry cloth over it as you work to keep it from drying out.

Step 2:

Grease the bottom and sides of baking tray.
Mix the walnuts, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.

Step 3:

Taking one sheet of fillo at a time, brush the melted butter very thinly all over the top of the pastry.
Lay in the baking tray, if it is too wide or long, hang it over the sides for now.
Repeat with the fillo until there are five sheets of pastry in the tray.
Spread half the walnut filling evenly over the pastry.
Add three more sheets of filo pastry, brushing each layer with melted butter before adding to the tray.

Step 4:

Spread the remainder of the walnut mixture over the pastry.
If there is any excess pastry up the sides of the tray or hanging over outside the tray then fold them in over the walnut filling. If the pastry is a lot larger than the tray, cut the sheets of pastry down to just a tiny bit wider and longer than the tray as it will shrink when you bake it.     Step 5:     Finish by adding about 8 or 10 more sheets of fillo on top, buttering each sheet every time. If the pastry sheets are a bit too big, just fold them back over themselves each time.
With a sharp knife, carefully cut small diamond or square shapes, only cutting through the top few layers. This will make it much easier to slice once cooked.

Step 6:

Take a cup of cold water and using your fingers or a small brush, sprinkle a little water over the top of the baklava. This will help prevent the cut pastry from curling up whilst cooking.

Step 7:

Place the baking tray in a preheated oven, 180 C, for 30 to 45 minutes, until golden. I suggest that you start checking on it after 25 minutes as you dont won’t your phyllo to burn.

Step 8:

In the meanwhile, boil all the syrup ingredients except the honey / other syrup in a saucepan for about 5 minutes.
Add the honey/ syrup and simmer for another 5 minutes until thickened slightly.
Remove the cinnamon sticks.

Step 9:

When the baklava is ready, remove from the oven and whilst still hot, pour the syrup all over the top of the pastry whilst still in the baking tray.
Cut the slices through to the bottom.
Leave to cool completely in the tray, soaking in the aromatic syrup.
Remove the slices one at a time from the tray.

Baklava will keep for 2-3 days, at room temperature.

TIP:

Use an other combination of nuts to change the flavour of your Baklava a mixture of walnuts and pistachios is a great alternative.

Now in  Greece they would say

                                                     καλή όρεξη
                                                       kalí̱ órexi̱     “
                            
which means ” Enjoy your meal”
Where can we find Greece in the world?


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