It’s fair to say baklava is one of those classic recipes that’s hard to say no to when it comes to dessert time.
While the origins of this scrumptious dessert are debatable, traditional baklava is made up of layers of filo, chopped nuts and a sugar syrup. Melbourne-based Middle Eastern chef Joseph Abboud explains: “Sometimes recipes will have cinnamon and/or a pinch of salt.”
The result is a rich, flavour-packed sweet treat that will keep you coming back for more.
“You’ll often find them cut into diamonds or rolled into cigars,” Joseph adds.
Turkey, Greece and the Middle East may claim baklava as their own, but who created this layered treat?
“Most historians believe that baklava is Turkish in origin hence its far reaching spread as [far] west as the Balkans and as [far] east as Azerbaijan,” Joseph explains. “That being said, it is the baklava around the Levant that is often considered the pinnacle.”
But, when we consider that all of these regions once belonged to the Ottoman Empire, it’s possible to think of baklava as an Ottoman dessert.
Today you’ll find variations of baklava in a great number of countries including Armenia, where it’s spiced with cinnamon and cloves, Greece, where a version is made with sesame seeds and in Iran, where pistachio-almond fillings are preferred.
Many cooks are intimidated by the process of constructing baklava, but it’s not as difficult as you think if you have few tricks on-hand.
Joseph says the trick to success with this dessert is using a lot more filo than normal. Also, don’t skimp on the butter or sugar since the recipe needs it to moisten and soften the sheets.
Another hot tip is cutting the pastry before baking as it will cut more cleanly, leaving nice edges. And for best results, let the baklava sit for a few hours before serving so the pastry can absorb the syrup and soften the layers.
Sound tasty? Here’s how to make it!