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Μπακλαβα (Baklava) Recipe

Do you like sweet stuff? If so, this is definitely the treat for you.

Baklava is a traditional greek sweet snack. I'm a big fan of Greek food anyway, but this is definitely one of my favourites. Unfortunately, it's not going to do you any good if you're trying to lose weight, and I can't see any way to make it better for you without completely spoiling the taste. If you've got any suggestions, do let me know.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Put all the nuts and the cinnamon into a bowl and mix together until the nuts are approximately evenly distributed and coated with cinnamon.
  2. Melt the butter. I found a good way to do this is to put it in a ceramic cup, and put in in a microwave at full power for 4 seconds, then stir. Repeat until the butter all turns to liquid without a cloudy color. This took about 6 heat-stir cycles for me.
  3. Using a pastry bush, use a little of the melted butter to coat a baking pan. I found a 28×23 cm (about 11×9″) pan worked quite well, if you're after a guideline for the sort of size to use.
  4. Place four sheets of pasty in the bottom of the pan, buttering each one as you place it in. The edges should come over the sides of the pan. If you're using Jus-Rol filo pastry, put the pastry and the pan in landscape orientation for these four sheets.
  5. Sprinkle in some of the nuts. I found that one handfull seemed to do quite will for this recipe.
  6. Add two sheets of pastry, buttering between them. These do not need to come over the sides of the pan. I found that my baking pan width was the same as the width of the Jus-Rol pastry I was using, and if the pan is kept in landcape orientation and the pastry is put in portrait orientation, aligning the top of the pastry with the top of the pan, buttering the part of the pastry in the pan and then folding the bottom half of the pastry into the pan worked well to get two sheets of pastry into the pan without too much work.
  7. Now would probably be a good time to pre-heat the oven. You need a fairly low temperature - gas mark 3½ worked quite well for me.
  8. Repeat this procedure of adding two sheets buttered in the middle then a layer of nuts until only two sheets of pastry are left. You should have just used up all the nuts by now.
  9. Fold the bottom pastry sheets over onto the top layer and butter then well. Now, use the remaining two sheets to create four sheets of pastry on top, buttering between each sheet. This should just about use up the rest of your butter.
  10. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the pastry. I founds that approximately 5cm squared works quite well. It's a lot easer to cut later if you do this now.
  11. Place the baking pan in the oven and leave for about 50 minutes.
  12. Check the μπακλαβα in the oven. If it's looking almost cooked (golden brown on top), then you're ready to start making the syrup. Leave the oven on whilst you do this to let it finish off cooking.
  13. Put the sugar, water and honey into a saucepan and bring it all to the boil, stirring constantly. You will have a sugar and saturated sugar solution mixture at this point. Boil for five minutes, again stirring constantly, to allow the remaining sugar to dissolve into the solution. At the end of this time, the liquid should be honey coloured, rather than the butterscotch colour that should have been evident at the start of the syrup cooking process.
  14. Remove the syrup from the heat. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla essence and mix in. Whilst the syrup is still hot, take the μπακλαβα out of the oven and pour all the syrup over it. Don't worry if it looks very thin at this point.
  15. Leave the pan to cool completely. I found that making this last thing at night and then going to bed is a good way of reducing the temptation to eat bits before it's ready!
  16. When it's cool and you're ready to eat some, cut a square out with a sharp knife and eat in any way you like - you'll almost certainly not be able to keep from getting sticky at this point, but it'll be worth it!

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