Baklava, made for all kinds of festive celebrations, is layers of filo pastry, filled with nuts and baked with butter until golden brown. Then soaked in a rich syrup for the sweetness.
It comes in many shapes, patterns and with different nuts in it. This is the one my mum bakes twice a year one of them is the celebrations marking the end of fasting month Ramadan, which we so aptly call the sugar festival in Turkey as it’s a marathon of eating sweets.
Filo pastry can be rolled out one by one or the smaller (thicker) disks of pastry can be layered in 5s or 10s and rolled out together.
I went for the individual layers this year and used a thinner rolling pin called “oklava” to roll them out as thin as I can.
I divided my dough into 50 g balls and with these I managed to roll a pastry to fit a 35 cm round metal oven tray.
If your tray is in a different size, adjust the size of your dough balls. A practical way of doing this would be to take a dough ball which you think is the appropriate size, rest it 10 minutes and roll it to see if it fits. Then adjust the weight and ball the rest of the dough accordingly.
I made a total of 15 individual layers for my 35 cm round oven tray with the amount of dough given in the recipe. You can go over the top and increase the dough recipe to have more layers, some recipes call for 30 layers.
Once the pastry is layered in the tray it is sliced and then brushed with butter before going into the oven. I went for an intricate star shaped pattern for my round oven tray.
It is also very common to go with simple diagonal stripes or even rectangles or squares if you have a square or rectangle oven tray.
One tip when you are melting the butter is to skim off the foam and the bits from the top of the melted butter. If these are left in the butter these will leave dark spots on your baklava after baking. as you see from the photo at top I wasn't able to skim all off and there are dark brown spots on the photo scattered around.
Here’s the recipe and a fast video of how to make it at the end.
For the syrup
500 g caster sugar
750 ml water
juice of 1/2 lemon
For the filo pastry
500 g Strong white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
250 ml water at room temperature
Cornflour for rolling the pastry
Filling 250 g butter melted
200 g walnuts crushed in a pestle and mortar (or pulsed in a food processor)
Start with making the syrup as it needs to cool down.
Put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to boil.
When it starts to boil reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 100 °C.
Add the juice of lemon, stir and leave to cool in the pan.
Add the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and beat on slow speed to incorporate.
Add the olive oil, eggs and continue to beat at slow speed for 10 seconds then increase to medium speed.
Add most of the water (about 200ml) and continue to beat at medium speed.
At this stage dough will start to come together, if there is still dry flour and bits at the bottom of the bowl add the remaining water slowly and a little bit at a time until everything in the bowl comes together.
Increase the speed of the mixer to medium high and beat for 10 minutes.
if you don’t have a stand mixer you can mix everything by hand and knead for 10 minutes.
At the end of 10 minutes you will have a smooth dough. Divide the dough into 50 gr balls plus one ball which weighs slightly more 60-75 gr. Smaller dough balls will be used for the layers and the heavier one will be used for the top layer.
Cover and rest for 20 minutes.
Rolling and layering
Heat the oven to 180°C fan.
Melt the butter in a pan without burning it and brush your oven tray with melted butter.
Take one of the dough balls, flatten it by hand first then dust with corn flour and using a rolling pin roll it into the size of your oven tray.
Lay it on the oven tray and continue with the rest of the balls until you finish layering half of the dough balls.
At this stage when you are halfway through layering up spread the walnuts over the last layer.
Continue with rolling the filo and layering until the last heavier ball for the top layer.
Roll the last layer, place it on top then push this layer at the edges down.
Cut the pastry in tour preferred pattern.
Pour and brush the melted butter over the top layer making sure it goes in the cut layers.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it’s golden brown at top.
Take it out of the oven and let it cool for 3 minutes.
Ladle over the syrup on slightly cooled baklava.
Rest it at least 4-5 hours for the syrup to be absorbed completely.