Walnut and Cinnamon Baklava
I have a special affinity for food you can eat with your fingers. Perhaps it is because the practice reminds of meals eaten in Iran or Pakistan (with my maternal and paternal family respectively) where eating with your hands is commonplace but I can’t help but feel there is just something inherently more intimate about an culinary experience that finishes with licking your fingers. This is a recipe that indulges such a practice. Homemade baklava is very easy it to make and an absorbing creative endeavour. And at the end of it all, there is the deeply satisfying experience of picking up a moist, dainty, piece and feeling its sticky syrup glue shards of flaky pastry to your fingers. Enjoy!
You’ll need a 20cm square baking tin and a pastry brush for this recipe. If you are using frozen filo pastry then let it come to room temperature an hour before using it and keep the pastry covered with a damp cloth while you are working with it to stop it cracking.
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g butter, melted
12 sheets of filo pastry
Ground pistachios to garnish (optional)
Place the sugar, water, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a third. Leave to cool.
Place the walnuts in a food processor and blitz until they are course. Add them to a bowl and stir through the cinnamon.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4.
Lightly grease a 20cm square tin with some melted butter. Layer a sheet of filo in the tin and brush it with the melted butter. Repeat this process until you have done 4 layers of filo and then scatter over half walnut mixture. Layer and butter another 4 sheets of filo, add the rest of the nuts and finish with 5 layers of filo. Butter the top generously and then using a sharp knife, carefully cut the baklava into rectangles or diamonds being sure to get all the way to the bottom of the tin.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon over half of the cooled syrup (it must be completely cool in order for the baklava to stay crispy). Leave for a few minutes and then spoon over the remaining syrup. Leave the baklava to rest for at least 1 hour before eating it and scatter with some ground pistachios just before serving.