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How To Make Baklava

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A traditional Greek and Turkish dessert, Baklava is a rich combination of layered sweet filo pastry, honey or syrup, spices and nuts. Baklava makes for a perfect accompaniment to strong coffee.
What you'll need: 
15-20 sheets of filo pastry
200g unsalted butter
200g chopped pistachios/almonds
Cinnamon (stick and powder)
Cardamom pods and powdered clove
350g granulated sugar
300ml water
Orange blossom water
Using a small amount of butter, lightly grease a medium baking tray. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan.
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Begin layering the pastry, one sheet at a time, brushing lightly with melted butter. Cover with a damp cloth.
In a dry frying pan slowly toast the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and, eventually, the powdered cinnamon and clove. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Crush the cardamom pods to remove the seeds. Place all spices except the cinnamon stick in a pestle and mortar and crush to a fine powder.
Finely chop the pistachios/almonds before adding to a bowl with the spices and 5-6 tbsp of granulated sugar and the zest of half a lemon. Mix well before spreading evenly over the prepared filo sheets.
Repeat the process with the remaining pastry, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Gently compress the pastry before using a sharp knife to score the top layers diagonally.
Place the baking tray in the preheated oven, allowing 20-25 minutes before reducing the heat to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and allowing an additional 30-35 minutes of cooking time.
Remove the baking tray from the oven and allow to cool while you make the syrup.
To a small, heavy-bottomed pan add 300ml of water, two tbsp of orange blossom water, the juice of half a lemon, the toasted cinnamon stick and 300g of sugar. Boil until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens into a syrup. Remove from the heat.
Slowly pour the syrup over the pastry, allowing it to be absorbed through the slits. Leave to cool and set.
Cut into diamond-shaped pieces and serve with strong coffee.
Making baklava is a simple way to introduce the flavours of the middle-east to an occasion.
Watch the pastry carefully in the last few minutes of cooking as filo pastry can 'catch' and burn easily.


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