Looking for a halal baklava recipe? We've got you sorted! This sweet dessert that's made of nuts and crispy thin sheets of filo pastry doused in syrup is popular in countries like Greece, Turkey and other Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean countries. And in all honesty, baklava is not that difficult when you have readymade filo pastry! It requires a bit more effort than say, a banana cake (as you have to paint each sheet of filo pastry with butter), but once you get the hang of it it's totally fun and doable at home.
Filo pastry (also known as phyllo or fillo pastry) is a particular type of pastry that's paper-thin and bakes up to a crispy texture (not to be confused with puff pastry!). You can usually find in the frozen section of supermarkets or baking stores. We've also seen some cooks online using readymade popiah skin in place of the filo pastry! While we haven't tried that for ourselves yet, you can give that a go if it's difficult to find filo pastry in your area.
Ingredients (yields on 8 x 8 pan)
- 40 sheets of filo pastry (sometimes spelled fillo or phyllo) measuring at least 8 x 8 (if using frozen filo pastry, thaw in the fridge overnight)
- 250g pistachios or walnuts (or a combination of both!)
- 125g unsalted butter, melted
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
For the syrup:
- 100g sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 90ml water
- ¼ cup honey
- Cut the filo pastry sheets to the size and shape of an 8 x 8 square pan. Cover the filo pastry with a damp tea towel while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Put the nuts and cinnamon into a food processer, then pulse until the nuts are finely chopped (but not too fine until it becomes crumbs).
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
- It's time to start assembling the baklava. Using a pastry brush, brush the base of the pan with some of the melted butter. Place one sheet of filo pastry on the pan, and brush it with melted butter. Repeat until you've placed 10 sheets of filo pastry (brushing melted butter on each layer) to form the bottom layer of your baklava.
- Scatter over 50g of the chopped nuts. Add 5 sheets of filo pastry, brushing every sheet with melted butter. Repeat this process 3 times
- For the top layer, add 10 sheets of filo pastry, brushing melted butter between each sheet (including the final top layer).
- Cut the baklava into pieces of your desired size. You can cut it into squares (slicing vertical slices then slicing across in perpendicular) or diamonds (slicing 3 vertical slices, then 3 slices across diagonally).
- Bake the baklava for 1 hour or until golden brown and edges appear crisp.
- In the meantime, make the syrup. Combine all the syrup ingredients into a pot and heat over medium-high heat, whisking to combine everything and ensure the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down slightly and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- When the baklava is ready, remove it from the oven and immediately pour over the cooled syrup. Leave the pan for at least 6 hours (or better yet, overnight!) so the baklava can absorb the syrup. Garnish with more chopped nuts if desired.
- Walnuts and pistachios are usually the most commonly used nuts for baklava, but you can also use any nuts you have on-hand, like almonds or pecans.
- For the filo pastry, you can usually it in the frozen section of the supermarket, e-retailers or at baking supply shops. Depending on which brand you buy, they'll come in pre-determined sizes and number of sheets. For some brands, you maybe be able to cut the sheets in half to get the 40 sheets measuring 8x8 needed for this recipe.
Baklava is always a treat to look forward to when we dine at Middle-Eastern or Greek restaurants, but now you can actually just a whip up a batch for yourself at home!