Somer Sivrioglu is here to treat our tastebuds with his legendary Turkish baklava recipe.
Baklava – it’s the tasty Turkish treat that has our tastebuds twisted. Traditionally made with layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and held together lovingly by syrup or honey, baklava dates back to the early 13th century from what was then known as the Ottoman Empire – a state which at one time controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.
Although you can’t hold us to our historical knowledge, you can instead count on us for our restaurant-worthy recipes. And this week, we’re sharing with you Somer Sivrioglu’s secret: the recipe to his traditional Turkish baklava.
Duration: 2.5 hours | Difficulty: Medium | Servings: 42 pieces
400g ground unsalted pistachio kernels (preferably Turkish or Iranian)
500g ghee or clarified butter
375g chilled filo pastry (at least 42 sheets)
500g caster sugar
Juice of 1⁄4 lemon
1. Put the pistachios in a blender and blend into a coarse powder.
2. Then, gently melt the ghee in a frying pan (or microwave for 30 seconds).
3. Remove the top 12 layers of filo and place between two damp cloths, then set aside for the top of the Baklava.
4. Divide the remaining filo into two equal stacks and place each stack between damp cloths. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the bottom and sides of a baking tray (traditionally 33 x 22 x 2 cm/13 x 81⁄2 x 3⁄4 in) with the warm ghee.
5. Place one filo sheet in the tray and lightly brush with ghee. Add two more layers, brushing with ghee each time, and then lightly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pistachios over the third filo layer.
6. Reserve 2 tablespoons of pistachios to decorate the top. Repeat the process six more times, to make a 21-sheet stack.
7. Top this layer with a thick, 5 mm (1⁄4 in) layer of pistachios. Continue the layering process — three sheets, then a light sprinkling of pistachios—four more times to make a 33-sheet stack. (Any broken or off cut pieces of filo can be used to make the middle layer of any trio.)
8. Take the remaining nine filo layers and continue to stack, brushing between each sheet with ghee, but not adding pistachios.
9. Using a sharp knife cut the Baklava seven times length ways and six times across to make 42 portions. (The Turkish style is square, but you can also make rectangular blocks.)
10. Reheat the remaining ghee and pour it between the cracks, and then set aside the pastry tray for 20 minutes to rest and absorb the ghee.
11. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Put the pastry in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the tray after 15 minutes to ensure even baking.
12. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup. Heat 600 ml (21 fl oz) of cold water and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy, being careful not to let it caramelise. Check the pastry regularly and remove it once the top is golden brown.
13. Carefully place the Baklava tray over medium heat for 1 minute, moving the tray around to ensure the base is evenly heated. Remove from the heat and pour the hot sugar syrup over the hot Baklava.
14. Leave to rest for 1 hour to absorb the sugar. Decorate the top with the remaining pistachios and serve!
Tip: Leftover Baklava can be kept for four days. However, don’t put it in the fridge as this will ruin the texture.
For more Ottoman inspired dishes to make at home, read how to make this Grilled Hemp and Eggplant Baba Ganoush Dip Recipe. Or, appease your sweet tooth with Neil Perry’s Easy Banana and Passionfruit Cheesecake Recipe.