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Honey & Rose Baklava

Rebecca Pearson from United Kingdom

Serves
16
Preparation
35 mintues
Cooks in
1 hour
Country of origin
Greece

This is my honey & rose baklava, a crisp, sticky pastry I’ve made many times over the years. Star anise, cardamom and cinnamon give a depth to offset the cloying nature of some sweet pastries. I’ve adapted this recipe; instead of orange blossom freighted over from New Zealand, I always use British honey. Having completed a beekeeping course and protested outside Parliament in a beekeeper’s suit, I’ve developed a heart for those hardworking insects! As for the rose, though it’s my favourite scent in the world, jars with my palette in excess, so I put in a bit less.

What I relish so much about this recipe is that it spans cultures. For my Mum & Gran, it takes them back to living in rural India where they grew up and where trays of similar sweets would be laid out (though drenched with so much sugar it apparently hurt their teeth), and my Turkish Cypriot boss demands I bake it for her as apparently it’s just like her Mother makes! Today, I’ve made it for a mammoth Greek Easter feast at my boyfriend’s Dad, Dimitri’s house along with traditional red eggs. Just one bite of this baklava and I’m back on the island of Zakynthos where we go every year, breathing in the intoxicating pine forests, lulled by the sound of the dazzling turquoise sea and sipping a bitter Greek coffee.

So how did this baklava go down? After far too much succulent lamb & tsoureki smeared with butter (don’t tell my model agency), I brought it out. Dimitri is 81 and finds the chaos of these family gatherings a little hectic. But when I placed the tray in front of him – a little rough around the edges after being carried there on two buses – his face lit up. He stroked my face and asked, “Did you really make this?” We leaned down to smell the rose and the star anise, then savoured every bite. It felt as though it was only the two of us in the room together. Food is my language of love, and today, with a slightly wonky (but nevertheless delicious) baklava, I showed Dim just how much I love him.

Ingredients

  • 12 sheets filo pastry
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 75ml honey
  • 35ml caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 100g shelled pistachios
  • 125g walnut pieces
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 50g toasted sesame seed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Seeds from 10 cardamom pods

Method

  • Make syrup by heating water, honey, caster sugar, rosewater, star anise and pinch of cinnamon over a low heat for 5-10mins
  • Heat oven to 180 C and melt butter in a saucepan.
  • Whizz ingredients in a food processor – not to too fine a consistency
  • Start layering the filo in a greased baking tin (30x22cm)
  • Layer 10 sheets of filo, brushinging each one with the melted butter
  • After 10, start sprinkling a layer of the nut mix, they layering with the filo, until mixture is finished.
  • Finish with 3-4 sheets of filo.
  • Slice into diagonal pieces
  • Put in oven for 45 mins – 1 hour
  • When it is done, take out and pour the cooled syrup over the baklava.
  • Enjoy!

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