Saturday, July 26, 2008


I never thought I would actually ever make baklava myself. It seems like such a hard thing to make, and having made it now, I will say that it's not exactly an easy thing to make. I was first intrigued about making some baklava myself when I saw Simon Bryant make it on The Cook and The Chef. He made it look very easy, so that got me slightly interested. It was only when I saw the exact same recipe in Belinda Jeffrey's Mix and Bake that I made up my mind to try it out.

The actual steps are very easy to do, it's the implementation that is difficult and tedious. Firstly, chopping all the nuts finely took me a good 45 minutes. I really need to invest in a food processor. Then, lining the filo pastry layer by layers and brushing each with butter was a bit of a nightmare. I had bought this filo ages ago and it had been in the fridge for quite a while. It had iced up so when it de-thawed, all the sheets stuck together. Very frustrating having tiny chunks of sheets rather than whole big sheets to work with. When Simon made it, all the nuts had been chopped for him already, the filo was nicely separated and he bascially only did the top layer. What took him two minutes took me 1.5 hours. The honey syrup part wasn't too bad. I made that while the baklava was baking.

So how does it taste. It's quite good. It's not sickly sweet like you find at some stores. However, the lemon flavour was a bit too strong for my liking. If I ever do make this again, I would up the sweetness a bit and drop the lemon part of the syrup. But to be honest, I think I would rather just buy baklava from my favourite store, El-Fayha on Sydney Road. The cost isn't too big a difference and their ones are just so amazingly good. I can munch through their 15 pieces for $10 deal in two days. My own baklava has been slowly eaten but it's just not as addictive.


200-250g unsalted butter
500g filo pastry
250g pistachio, 250g walnuts finely chopped (or all walnuts)
110g castor sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
40 whole cloves (optional)

Honey Syrup
1 1/2 cups (330g) castor sugar
1 cup (250ml) water
1/3 cup (120g) clear honey
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 drops rosewater (optional)
finely chopped lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
finely chopped pistachios (optional) for sprinkling

Gently melt butter in small pan over low heat, then let cool. Skim off any white scum from top, and then carefully pour clear liquid into a jug leaving any milky sediment behind.
Brush a 32x24x5cm baking tin with some of the butter. Cut filo so that it is a similar size to the tin. Cover filo sheets with a damp tea towel to stop it drying out.
Mix together nuts, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
Line base of tin with a third of the filo sheets, brushing each sheet lightly with melted butter as you go. Sprinkle half nut mixture evenly over filo and shake tin gently to even out. Repeat the layering with another third of the filo and butter, and then top with the remaining nut mixture. Layer remaining filo over this, brushing it with the butter as you go, then brush the top with the butter too. Trim and discard any excess filo from around the sides of the tin with a sharp knife.

Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up the baklava so it's easier to score. When it is firm use a sharp knife to score the baklava, right through to the base, into diamonds of whatever size you want. Push a clove, if using, into centre of each one.
Bake at 180 for about one hour or until top of baklava is deep golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if it seems to be browning too quickly.

For the syrup, combine sugar, water, honey and cinnamon stick in saucepan over high heat. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and bring to boil.
Reduce the heat to very low and simmer syrup, uncovered, for 20 minutes, skimming of any white foam that floats on surface. Remove syrup from heat, discard cinnamon stick and stir in lemon zest, juice and rosewater. Keep syrup in a warm spot.

When baklava is ready, remove from oven. Cool the tray on wire rack for one minute, then slowly drizzle warm syrup evenly over the top. Leave it to cool completely, do not refrigerate, for at least 12 hours before serving.
To serve baklava, cut down through score marks to loosen diamonds. Remove cloves and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.


  1. You need a sous chef to do all your prep work for you!

  2. You're so right Agnes. Cooking would be so much easier if there was sous chef to prep all the ingredients and a kitchen hand to them wash up all the dishes. If only.....

  3. Oh, dear. I just wrote this huge long comment telling you that I had a challenger for you with THE best baklava on Sydney Road and then checked which one it was and of course, it's the same one.
    What can I say, I am so right there with you. Everything is amazing.
    Also, I tried the method that Fedi (or however you spell his name) reckons he does: filo, nuts (spices etc), filo, and cut it I think, then pour the melted butter over the lot, bake, then cold sugar syrup. No honey, too overpowering, he said. I keep meaning to try it again.
    Have you tried his pistachio "princess" pastry? it's square and I think he calls it Princess Di or something. divine!!!

  4. Cathy, we're of the exact same opinion that El-Fayha baklava is the best. I like everything they make, except the semolina squares which I tell him never to put in when I get a mixed tray.

    The method of pouring butter over everything sounds a lot easier than brushing between each sheet. Cold sugar syrup is an interesting one. Because normally they always say to use hot syrup so it soaks into the pastry. And no honey, wow. I can never quite work out what they put in the syrup because it's so tasty.

    The Pistachio squares, like a tulip flower with the nuts in the middle is my absolute favourite one. I just went there this past Saturday and got some more. They're so tasty I've finished half of it already.

  5. I admit this dish was quite tasty, but it fell apart like your common sense.

  6. I'm glad you liked the baklava. It did fall apart a bit. I need to squash it down more next time I think.

    My common sense is as tight as your spending.

  7. arabs normally put rosewater or orange blossum water in the syrup

  8. Ran, I know that one of El-Fayah's baklava has rosewater. I actually prefer it without the rosewater. I'm not sure I've tasted any of his with orange blossum yet. I must ask him next time what he puts in his sugar syrup.

  9. Thanh, can you imagine making the filo pastry by hand - my mother used to!!! She was amazing... maybe I will try it one day... I usually just buy it... My mum used to make baklava, but also apple, walnut, pumpkin, sour cherry and semolina, cheese and lots more delicious dishes involving filo pastry... she was the best... you have done well with yours too! V x

  10. Vida, I actually was thinking how much harder it would have been had I had to make that filo pastry. How do you manage to actually roll out the filo so thin? Do you need to use a machine, like making pasta?

  11. Thanh, no all by hand... there is no machine and you could not use a machine because the mix is soooo sticky... it's like elastic and mum used to lift the edge quickly and let air rise and stretch it... she would have the entire dinning table covered in the stretched filo... it was such an art... I wish I had had the forsense to video the process but I did not... I do still have my sweet memories or it though... Vida x P.S. sorry you have had to deal with those awaful people leaving yucky comments, not nice at all. Good on you for being so calm about it!

  12. Vida, all by hand. Oh my goodness. If it's sticky though, how do you cut it into smaller sheets and store them without all the sheets sticking together? You've painted an image for me of something like roti where they then fold it into layers that are all stuck together. But the store bought filo is definitely individual sheets that can be pulled apart.

    I don't particularly like the comments, but I'm also not too bothered by them. I've only had to delete one where the Anonymous guy called me a really abusive term. It's funny how he can proclaim to have so much experience in the food industry, but yet be so closed minded and abusive just because I disagree with him in regards to a few restaurant reviews.

  13. Thanh, it's really sticky so you can stretch it without it tearing and breaking but you dry it out and that is when you can use it and fold it for storing etc. Also when you are making it fresh you DO NOT store it - you use it instantly, I mean that is the whole idea right! It's the store bought stuff that needs to be frozen or stored that gets altered a bit... like fresh pasta and dried.
    As for the comments - clearly those people are bullies not to mention cowards who are hiding behind their anomininity - I mean if they weren't then they would say who they are for everyone to know exactly what they are made of. We are all out there and not hiding anything because we are not ashamed of our behaviour - nothing to be ashamed of... pity there are such horrible people around. Keep strong and safe... V x

  14. Vida, now I get it. So you have to dry it out. I guess it's like any other pastry. If you make it, you do intend to use it straight away, unlike the store bought stuff like you said.

    I don't need to know who these people are. They can be anonymous all they wish. I will take criticism, just not abuse.

  15. Vida,

    Please don't insult our anonymous friend. It's people like him that make people like you talk on his blog.

    He's a god of commenters!!

  16. Hi:

    I was searching for something to guide meto score baklava with a litle more ease, and I think the 20 minutes thing sounds very interesting. Thank you.

    I just finished assembling the baklava, and anyone who has tried it has said it is the best they have ever eaten. Although based on a recipe by McCall's, I have made a few changes to suit my tast, and the first is not to use the spices. The second is I make a light syrup, with ORANGE BLOSSOM water. Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. The lemon is added usually to prevent the syrup from crystalizing. But with the speed baklava disappears, is there really time for crystalization?

    Regarding buttering the sheets, try every other one instead of every one (McCall's). I have even tried cheating and doing it every 4 or 5 with extra butter on the top sheet and a few knife stabs. Arabs don't make it with cinnamon etc. We just make it with nuts, and the divine flavor comes from the orange blossom of the syrup.

    I think if you do a search for Baklava, McCall's Cooking School, you will find the exact proportions except the person puts 1.5 lbs. of filo instead of the one pound that my recipe has. I think 1.5 might be more realistic with this recipe. And they say, hot syrup over cold baklava, or cold on hot. I use cold on hot.

    Lastly, I will tell you one thing: If you found a good baker and with such reasonable prices, you don't need to ever go without baklava. It truly is a heavenly sweet!


  17. Vida, did you ever think those who write anonymously do so because they have no accounts with google and such.

    I have been having difficulty posting with my google account so I will try posting it anonymous to see what happens, not because I am trying to hide anything.