2014 Restaurant Guide

Get the latest listings of Australia's best dining establishments on your iPhone.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Buy a subscription this month for your chance to win one of five health retreat escapes at Golden Door valued at $35,000. Offer ends May 28.

Gourmet on your iPad

Download the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

Baklava

You'll need

  • 250 gm each
  • pistachios and walnuts, finely chopped
  • 100 gm
  • caster sugar
  • 3 tsp
  • ground cinnamon
  • 200 gm
  • butter, coarsely chopped
  • 500 gm
  • filo pastry
  •  
  • Honey syrup
  • 300 gm
  • caster sugar
  • 125 gm
  • honey
  • 1
  • lemon, finely grated rind and juice only (or to taste)
  • 1
  • cinnamon quill
  • 4 drops
  • rosewater, or to taste

Method

  • 01
  • Combine nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, set aside and keep warm. Brush a 3cm-deep 24cm x 34cm baking tray with butter. Cut filo sheets to fit tray snugly and cover with a damp tea towel.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Layer one-third of the filo pastry in tray, brushing butter between each layer. Scatter evenly with half the nut mixture, then top with half the remaining pastry, brushing butter between each layer. Scatter over remaining nuts, top with remaining filo, brushing between each layer with butter. Refrigerate until firm (15 minutes), then cut through all pastry layers into 4cm diamonds with a sharp knife. Bake until golden and cooked through (45 minutes-1 hour). Cover loosely with foil partway through cooking if top browns too quickly.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for honey syrup, combine sugar, honey, lemon rind, cinnamon and 300ml water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low, simmer until infused (20 minutes). Remove from heat, strain through a fine sieve, stir through lemon juice and rosewater to taste and set aside.
  • 04
  • Cool baklava slightly (2-3 minutes), pour over syrup evenly, set aside at room temperature to cool completely (overnight if possible). Baklava will keep in tray, covered, for 3-4 days.
This recipe is from the August 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Baklava has come a very long way - in both historical and geographical terms. Many ethnic groups lay claim to this moreish pastry, and, truth be told, many have played a part in its evolution. Known as one of the Middle East's grandest sweets, it's believed to have started, in its crudest form, with the Assyrians around 8BC. Thin bread dough was layered with chopped nuts and honey and baked in wood-burning ovens. Greek merchants travelling east to Mesopotamia then took the recipe to Athens, and finessed it with leaf-thin filo pastry (phyllo means leaf in Greek). The Armenians, located on the Spice Route, introduced cinnamon and cloves; the Arabs added cardamom and rosewater.

From its humble origins, it became a sweet adored by the wealthy. At the peak of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish sultans and their harems prized it for its purported aphrodisiac qualities - cinnamon for women, cardamom for men and cloves for both sexes. Unfortunately, many people's experience of baklava today does little to recapture its former glory. Often what's commercially available is made with low-grade oils instead of butter, and peanuts are substituted for the traditional (and more expensive) walnuts and pistachios, to poor effect.

The success of baklava lies in using the freshest nuts you can find. Source them from a supplier with a large turnover or try Middle Eastern stores, which often sell large quantities at reasonable costs. (You can store nuts in the freezer at home for optimum freshness.) The same rules apply with spices - use the freshest possible. We've used just a single note of cinnamon in this recipe, but you could also add a pinch or two of other traditional spices.

You can use any honey for the syrup, but this is a good opportunity to use your favourite single-blossom honey - it will be shown off to good effect here. And allow plenty of time for the syrup to work its way between the layers of pastry and nuts. The end result shouldn't be dry - rather it should be a syrup-soaked treat which still has a nutty crunch. Baklava will keep for several days and arguably gets better over time, so make up a big tray and indulge your sweet tooth with this perfumed delicacy.

At A Glance

  • Serves 45 people
  • 20 min preparation
  • 1 hr cooking (plus cooling)
Win
a Mothers' Day treat!

Win a Trentham Tucker and Breville prize pack valued at over $2,000 in our Mother's Day giveaway.

Read More
Win
a trip to New Zealand!

Win a luxury weekend for two in Queenstown valued at more than $20,000 thanks to Matakauri Lodge.

Enter now
Gourmet TV

Check out our video section for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

At A Glance

  • Serves 45 people
  • 20 min preparation
  • 1 hr cooking (plus cooling)

You might also like...

Adriano Zumbo: Rice pudding trifle with saffron jelly and mango and mint salsa

recipes

Adriano Zumbo: Passionfruit, lychee and coconut buche de Noel

Adriano Zumbo: Cranberry-rosemary Florentine bars

recipes

Adriano Zumbo: Candy cane macarons

David Thompson: Green papaya salad (Som dtam malakor)

recipes

David Thompson: Charred rice noodles and chicken with thickened “gravy” (Raat nar gai)

David Thompson: Stir-fried minced beef with chillies and holy basil (Neua pat bai grapao)

recipes

conversion tool

 
get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.