Turkey

Dish

Baklava is like the combination of an Iranian dessert made of dough filled up with nuts and peanuts and baked in ovens with the thin layered bread of the Turks. In every Turkish pastry shop, supermarket and household, you'll find endless varieties of baklava made with walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and more, all in shapes and sizes you'd never dream of. Squares, diamonds, rolls and spirals. It's a baklava-lovers paradise. We must mention that there's a special reason for baklava being the top choice of pastry for the Turkish Sultans with their large Harems, as well as for the wealthy and their families. Two principal ingredients, the pistachio and honey, were believed to be aphrodisiacs when taken regularly. Certain spices that were added to baklava, have also helped to augment the aphrodisiac characteristics of the pastry, depending on male or female consumer. Cinnamon for females, and cardamom for males and cloves for both sexes. Try adding a little to your recipe!

Ingredients

Syrup:
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Baklava:
  • 454 gr (1 lb) Phyllo Pastry (~20-22 sheets)
  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup pistachios, grounded (use a processor but do not grind finely), the measurement is after grinding
  • 6 tbsp cream 35%
3L (13x9x2") Pyrex casserole dish

Method

  1. To prepare the Baklava syrup place the water and sugar in a medium sized pot.
  2. First bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes.
  3. Then simmer for 15 minutes and turn the heat off.
  4. Add lemon juice and place the syrup in another bowl so that it cools down quickly.
  5. Place the block of Phyllo sheets on the counter.
  6. Cut the sheets in half (8x12 inches).
  7. Now there are two blocks of approximately 40 sheets.
  8. After cutting in half, the size of the sheets should the same as the size of the Pyrex dish.
  9. Keep the blocks separate as half the sheets will go below the Baklava filling, and the rest above.
  10. Brush the inside of the pyrex dish with the butter. Then lay down 2 sheets. Spread more butter on top and then place two more sheets on top and butter again.
  11. Continue until you finish the first block of the phyllo sheets. Then brush on the cream evenly on top
  12. Spread the pistachios on the cream evenly .Then finish second block of the sheets the same way.
  13. Don't forget to brush the very top with butter.
  14. Dip a big, sharp knife into hot water to cut the Baklava in rectangles.
  15. Cut 4 vertically and 6 horizontally to get 24 piece of Baklava. However, don't cut all the way down, only cut halfway until you reach the pistacchio This will ensure only the top parts will rise when you bake it.
  16. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the pyrex dish on the middle rack.
  17. Bake for 25 minutes. At this point turn the heat down to 325 F while the dish is still in the oven. Bake for 30 more minutes and take the Baklava out.
  18. Leave it at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  19. Then using the same knife, re-cut the Baklava all the way down. This part may be a little bit hard but is worth it:)
  20. With a tablespoon pour the lukewarm syrup evenly along the cut lines. Make sure not to pour it all over, only between the lines, otherwise Baklava won't turn out well
  21. Sprinkle some pistachios on top of each Baklava. Let it rest at least 4 hours before serving. The syrup should be completely absorbed. You don't need to refrigerate it. Cover Baklava loosely with aluminum foil to keep safe.