This week I do have a GBBO inspired bake to share, a delicious baklava. I've not really eaten baklava many times and I've certainly never tried making one before but I love the traditional, perfumed flavours and this recipe has plenty of those! I amended the recipe I used and made the syrup an orange flavoured one because it had tasted so good on my Portuguese Custard Tarts.
Now obviously a major part of the challenge for the bakers was making their own filo pastry, but as even they admitted they wouldn't usually do this, I'm not even a tiny bit ashamed to admit that I used ready made filo pastry sheets!
I also did a bit of experimenting with some spare ingredients to come up with an alternative to these that was gluten free so that everyone I baked for would be able to experience the flavours in some way. I will hopefully write a post about that, but I'm deciding whether to share what I originally made, or whether to play around with the recipe a little further and share the final product. Wait and see anyway!
The recipe I chose to follow and adapt this week is a BBC Good Food one by Roberta and Julia Sawalha and you can find it here. The recipe says it serves 8-10 which is probably about right, if not a little low- I lost a lot of baklava because my pastry was too flaky and still ended up with about eight portions.
To make this baklava I used:
10 sheets filo pastry
225g unsalted butter
100g pistachio kernels
125g walnut pieces
2tbsp white granulated sugar
6 cardamom pods
For the syrup
350g white granulated sugar
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 medium sized orange)
Preheat the oven to 180°c. Grease a 17x23cm baking tray with butter. Lightly dampen a tea towel, then unroll the filo pastry onto a clean surface or dry tea towel and cover with the damp one. I didn't trim my sheets of pastry, but I would suggest cutting them to the size of the base of the baking tray to avoid having excess pastry flaking everywhere.
Roughly chop the nuts. They don't need to be too small- Mary Berry praised someone for leaving big pieces of pistachio in their baklava. Use a knife to cut open the cardamom pods and get the seeds out. I crushed the seeds with the back of a teaspoon- if you can grind them with a pestle and mortar that would work better. Or you could buy ground cardamom but I couldn't find any. Mix the nuts, sugar and cardamom in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a pan and leave to cool slightly. Place a sheet of pastry into the baking tray and brush generously with butter. I haven't got a pastry brush here so just used my fingers which worked fine- but obviously you need the butter to be cool enough not to burn yourself. Add another four sheets of pastry, brushing the top of each one with butter.
Spread the nut mixture over the top of the pastry making sure its evenly distributed. Then cover with the remaining pastry sheets, brushing with butter as before.
Use a knife to cut through the top layers of pastry in a criss-crossed diamond pattern, then put into the oven for 20 minutes. After this time, turn the heat down to 150°c and continue to bake for about 40 minutes until golden on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the syrup, juice an orange and then add this to the sugar and water in a pan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Allow it to thicken up into a syrup which should take about 15 minutes. I think I overdid mine a little bit and ended up with a very sticky almost caramel. Pour the syrup into the cuts you made in the baklava. You will need all the syrup- I only used about half because I used some on my gluten-free experiment and forgot to allow for this, oops!
Allow the baklava to cool and then cut into diamond sized pieces. This went a little bit wrong for me- my knife wasn't very sharp, my syrup was too sticky and I had way too much excess pastry and so I got out a few decent slices and ended up with a flaky mess to sieve through and salvage any extra good bits. I think I need to practice this recipe again.
We enjoyed this in front of the Bake Off accompanied by chocolate buttons and Crunchie bites, but it might also go well with a scoop of good ice cream or a strong coffee. Actually, bitter coffee would be a great idea for counteracting the sweet, butteriness of this!
What do you think?