Greek food is not often home-cooked here in Australia, but with the right ingredients, you can create a fantastic Mediterranean eating experience that will transport you to the blue and white coastline of Santorini for a night. Here is a favourite Greek recipe for the delicious and beautifully sweet baklava.
For the filling:
- 500g walnuts, coarsely ground
- 500g almonds, coarsely ground
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
For the syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 10 whole cloves
- Juice of half a lemon
- 500g phyllo pastry sheets
- 500g unsalted butter, melted
- Mix the walnuts, almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18-inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9 x 12-inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 rectangular pan. Begin by layering six sheets of phyllo making sure to brush each with melted butter.
- Add half of the nut mixture in an even layer. Pat it down with a spatula to flatten it.
- Continue layering another 6 sheets of phyllo. Add the remaining nut mixture in an even layer. Top with the remaining phyllo sheets.
- Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to go past the top filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later. I place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.
- Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the phyllo turns a rich golden colour.
- While the baklava is cooking, in a medium saucepan, combine the water and the sugar and mix well. Add the cloves and simmer over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. You want the syrup to be slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and discard the cloves. Stir in the juice of half a lemon. Allow the syrup to cool slightly.
- When the baklava is out of the oven and still warm, ladle the syrup carefully into the pan. Baklava can be refrigerated or stored at room temperature.