Farangeez Ahmadi / Slow Food Perth 16 June 2007

This recipe makes enough baklava to fill two baking dishes 43cm x 30cm x 2.5cm. You will need to make the syrup a few hours before so that it is cool before you assemble and later cook the baklava.

Syrup
3 cups of sugar
one and a half cups of water
half cup of rosewater
1 tablespoon lemon juice
extra tablespoon rosewater

Put the sugar in a saucepan with the water and rosewater. Bring this gently to the boil for up to 20 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the liquid lightly coats a spoon. Add lemon juice and the extra rosewater. Cool and have ready for assembling the baklava.

Baklava
1kg ground almonds, or buy almond meal, as the Persian variety of baklava uses very finely ground nuts. (The result is more compact and smaller than the Greek version.)
1kg pistachio nuts, for roasting
400g icing sugar, or if the baklava you tasted at the workshop was too sweet, reduce the amount
3 teaspoons ground cardamom (Farangeez used the ground white type)
500g unsalted butter
rosewater
two packets of filo pastry – according to the experts the Antoniou is the best one available. Do not use frozen pastry. (I have seen the Antoniou in Farmer Jacks’ markets.)
300ml oil, preferably scentless

Method
Place pistachios in a moderate oven for 15 minutes and, when cool to touch, rub off as much of the skins as possible. Grind the nuts finely. Combine well with the ground almonds or almond meal, icing sugar and ground cardamom and set aside.

Butter the base of tin well. Place six layers of filo, buttering each layer in turn, on base of tin. Fill with half of the nut mixture and, most importantly, spoon this down until it is compact. This takes a little care and time. Moisten the nut layer with rosewater and lay another six buttered sheets of filo on top of nut mixture. Place in a refrigerator overnight as this makes the baklava easier to cut.

The next day, remove from fridge and trim any edges before cutting through with a very very sharp pointed knife. Farangeez does not just score the top but cuts right through, maing either a square or diagonal shape. (Use a ruler or guide to help you cut.)

Heat the oil in saucepan until very hot and then spoon gently over the cut baklava. (Test if oil is hot enough on a corner; it should bubble as you spoon it over.) Then bake on the middle shelf in a moderate oven until golden brown.

Cool baklava to room temperature and spoon syrup over it, then leave for an hour and if necessary pour over some extra syrup. Covered baklava will keep in the fridge for a good week. If it has been in the fridge for a few days and you want to refresh it, pour a little more warmed syrup over it.