Friday, 15 May 2015

Nutty Pieday

Baklava is clearly pie: delicious nutty filling encased in pastry and drenched in syrup, that's definitely some sort of wonderful diminutive pie.
 So, since I had a hafla* to go to and was looking for a different sort of pie to those that we've attempted lately, baklava it was**.
They are far easier than you might imagine, at least the way we made them as we don't make our own filo***, and well worth the frankly negligible effort.

So we made Baklava.


300ml of water
500g caster sugar (but adjust sweetness to taste)
Two packets of filo pastry
One lemon
Three small bags of pistachios (about 300-400g)
About half a block of butter.

First boil the kettle, half fill a bowl with boiling water, place the butter in a second, smaller bowl**** and gingerly place the one inside the other***** taking care not to get any water in with the butter.
Instruct Small and Smaller Chefs to be careful because that water is hot and could burn them.
Observe that both chefs now treat that whole countertop as though it were an unexploded bomb.
Decide this is better than the alternative and get on with things, occasionally pausing to refresh the boiling water in the bowl as it cools.
 The point of this, in case you hadn't realised, is to melt the butter.
You can do it a different way, if you have one that works.

Grate a little of the zest from the lemon and set it aside.
Do not allow Smaller Chef to eat some of the lemon zest.
Or do, if you want to see the face she makes.
Grate some more while Smaller Chef washes her mouth out.

Pour the water into a pan (not too small in case it boils over) stir in the sugar, then cut the lemo in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the pan.
Put the pan on the stove and bring to the boil.
Issue an appropriately awful warning about the dangers of boiling sugar then invite Chefs Small and Smaller to stir the pan.
Observe that they now cross the kitchen as though they were navigating a minefield.
Stir the darn syrup yourself.
Allow to boil for five minutes, the take it off the heat and pour in a couple of tablespoons of rosewater.
Decant the whole thing into a jug, leave it to cool, then stick it in the fridge till you need it.

Next chop or crush the nuts.
You can do this by hand or in a Mechanical Whirry Blendy Device of Doom.
Should you choose the MWBDD, do not attempt to chop all the nuts at once.
Instead do a packet at a time, taking turns to push the button or whatever it is your particular contraption requires.
Note that while the Chefs Diminutive each quail away from the noise of the MWBDD when someone else is operating it, neither has any problem with the volume when the power is in their hands.
Muse on the implications of this while reducing the pistachios to a pleasing gravel.
Stir the nuts and lemon zest together.

Now turn on the oven to a medium sort of heat (we went with 200c).

Take a roasting tin or foil tin and brush the sides and base with the melted butter.
If you have a small tin****** brush that with the butter as well.

Now lay one of the packets of filo in the tin, a sheet at a time, brushing each sheet thoroughly with butter after you tuck it neatly in.
The filo should come up the sides of the tin a little.
Assuming you have an overhanging end of filo each time, which you probably will, cut it off and put it in the smaller tin.

Once the whole packet of pastry has been used pour in the pistachio and lemon mixture and smooth it off to cover the whole bottom of the pastry lined tin.
If you have a smaller lined tin too, share the nuts between the two.
Then repeat the filo-and-butter routine with the second packet, to cover the nuts.
Make sure you butter the top layer too.
Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into neat squares or diamonds.
Make sure you cut down through every layer*******.
Note that the minor chefs, while treating a bowl of boiling water like weapons-grade plutonium, have absolutely no problem wielding blades.
Bask in the warm glow of pride.

Put the tin in the oven for half an hour and have a cup of mint tea or something.

When the baklava are puffy and golden and lovely, take them out and pour half of the jug of syrup over the top.
Once this has soaked in add the second half.

Allow the baklava to cool, then wrap carefully to take to a party the next day.
Or not if you have nowhere to be.
Save the smaller tray, should there be one, for when you get back.

Take baklava to party.
Observe the speed at which they vanish.
Do not get any baklava yourself.

On returning home observe that the contents of the reserve tin have been mysteriously reduced to a single square.

*A sort of bellydance party, with performances and generally a table of nibbles to which attendees can add things.

**I cheated: we made these on Wednesday, today was instead dedicated to maths with muffins.
I should probably call them American muffins, as I loathe the recent tendency to call plain, teatime muffins English muffins, at least in England, but I'm a fool for alliteration so I didn't.

***I'm cooking with kids here: time and fiddliness aside, home-made filo is a bridge too far.

****We used one of the little plastic bowls we got for the kids when they were tiny, these are generally pretty handy when cooking for weighing ingredients, separating eggs and so forth.

***** Or rather, the other inside the one.

******Or if you though ahead and bought some of those little tinfoil things curry sometimes comes in.

*******If using one of those flimsy foil things, take care not to cut through that as well as it will leak syrup all over the place later on.
I know this because reasons.


  1. ***** nearly killed me 😂

    Carole x

  2. Oops, sorry.

    Maybe I should put a warning on the blog: May Contain Nuts.