This is a very simple version of a classic dessert, varieties of which can be found all over the Middle East and North Africa. Filo pastry is tricky and time-consuming to make, so instead I have used ready-made filo, which gives excellent results. I’ve flavoured the baklava with lemon juice, but you can perfume the syrup with rose water or orange flower water if you prefer.
Makes about 25 pieces Prep 30 minutes Bake 25 – 30 minutes
150g unsalted butter, melted
200g shelled pistachio nuts (unsalted)
250g ready-made filo pastry
250g caster sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 20cm square baking dish with a little of the melted butter. Chop the pistachios finely by hand or blitz them in a food processor.
2. Place a sheet of pastry in the bottom of the baking dish and brush with melted butter, folding the pastry to fit the dish if necessary. Place another sheet of pastry on top and brush the surface with melted butter. Repeat this until you have used half the pastry. Add the chopped pistachios, in a single layer. Layer the remaining filo pastry on top, brushing each layer with melted butter.
3. Once you’ve brushed the top with melted butter, cut through the layers into diamond shapes using a sharp knife.
4. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the baklava is golden and crisp. Set aside to cool completely.
5. To make the syrup, put the sugar, water and lemon juice into a pan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the hot syrup over the cooked baklava. Leave to cool before cutting and serving.
Taken from Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake, published by Bloomsbury
Photograph © Peter Cassidy