First and foremost, let me apologise for the lack of photographs of the finished product in this post, and for the one only very vaguely decent one. My baklava pictures were the first food pictures I ever took – before I knew of the wondrous close-up shot mode my camera posesses – and as a result, they’re horrendous and out of focus and the clutter on my desk takes over the shot and the baklava just really doesn’t look that great (even though it tasted phenomenal! So instead I’ve included a bunch of shots of the deliciously sweet and syrupy treats we bought in Bosnia, along with a couple of burek. More on that later.
This is just a recipe I pulled off the back of a filo pastry packet. It was really simple and easy. I didn’t use as many layers of filo as I should have as I had used most of it up for a Spinach and Feta pie the night before.
I had made this before my big interrail trip, but just never got around to posting it until now. It feels quite appropriate now given that a dispute over pronunciation – it should be bek-l-aiiiir-wa, apparently -reduced us all to tears, more like sobs, of laughter and resulted in a laughter induced nosebleed(!!!) on my end. The poor Bosnian ticket conductor decided to leave our compartment until later once I’d ceased to bear such an uncanny resemblance to the joker.
It also seems quite appropriate that the first batch of filo had been used up on a spinach and feta tart, two crucial ingredients for that Balkan speciality, burek. We had burek overload when we were out there. Cheese, meat and cheese, cheese and meat, spinach and cheese, potato and (in all likelihood) cheese. Pumpkin was another version we heard about in Sarajevo, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if cheese was in there somewhere. By the time we got to Novi Sad I was well and truly bureked out. To the extent that the last piece I had was so stuffed with nothing but cheese, I couldn’t go into a bakery for the next few days without wanting to throw up.
Both boys we were travelling with still somehow survived off the stuff, one of them buying a ginormous slab of the stuff every night to take in to EXIT festival with him to keep him going. The best part was during the security checks, where the guards were scrutinizing every nook and cranny of people’s wallets and pockets to ensure no one was carrying drugs through. One such guard went to open this mysterious triangular, slightly greasy, paper package; Alex simply said ‘it’s burek’ and was waved straight through. He did this again the next night, and the next, and the next. It worked every. single. time. There could’ve been ANYTHING in there!
Anyway, back to baklava. I’ll be posting a burek recipe soon.
The recipe was originally in French, so I hope my translation works out for ya.
For 12 pieces of baklava:
10 sheets of filo (I only had 5, but just cut them in half and still used the full amount of filling)
200g raw pistachios (you could also substitute in some walnuts)
1 tbsp orange flower water
1tbsp almond extract (optional, my addition)
300g granulated or caster sugar
For the syrup:
3 tbsp icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
Pulse the pistachios with the orange water, almond extract if using, and the granulated sugar.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment, and place a layer of filo pastry on it. Melt the butter and brush some over the first layer of filo pastry. Stick on another layer of pastry, trying to vaguely line it up, and brush with more butter. Carry on in the same vein until you have a stack of five buttered layers of filo pastry.
Spread the nutty paste over this, then carefully layer up the next five sheets of pastry, buttering each one. Cut into 6 diagonal strips, then do the same on the other diagonal. I really hope that makes sense.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, dissolve the icing sugar in the lemon juice over a low heat to form a syrup. Stir all the time to make sure the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Take the baklava out of the oven and drench in the syrup. Leave to cool then serve!