This wickedly good sweet treat by Nici Wickes is easy to make at home and it keeps well. Have with sweetened black minted tea.
Pre-heat the oven to 175 F. Process the nuts in a food processor until they are chopped finely but not to a paste. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Cut the pastry to the shape/size of your tin. I do this with scissors in one solid block as it’s easier.
Brush a shallow rectangular baking tray (a swiss roll tin is ideal) (approx 20x30cm) liberally with butter. Do the sides too. Now layer two sheets of pastry, one at a time – they should be a snug fit - brushing butter between the layers and over the second layer. Now layer remaining sheets of pastry on top of each other until you have used half of your pile (or 10-15 sheets). No need to butter between each, BUT BEFORE the last two sheets, brush with butter again, then lay the remaining two down. Now sprinkle your ground nuts evenly over the pastry, leaving a very small perimeter free of nuts.
Lay two sheets over the top, one at a time, brushing butter between them and brushing the second one with butter too. Now layer the rest, one at a time, flicking the odd bit of butter between sheets every now and then. When you have two left, butter the second to last one after you have layed it down, and then the last, top one too.
Now the cutting::
Using an up and down motion, cut an even grid pattern, each square being about 4cm x 4cm. Do this as neatly as you can and working fast is best to not disturb the pastry. Now pour the melted butter over the whole dish, tilting it so that it runs down the grid and gets in all squares. This is easier than buttering each sheet as you go!
Bake at 175 F until golden brown. You can check it after 20-25 minutes to see if bottom is cooked. Whilst it cooks, make the syrup by bringing all ingredients to the boil in a saucepan and simmering for 5-7 minutes. Do not let it colour.
As soon as baklava is cooked, remove from the oven then, moving quickly, ladle the syrup over the entire surface. Leave to sit, soak and cool. They say never to eat baklava hot or even warm as it is too rich that way, so be patient!
Serve with whipped cream and ground pistachios.
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