A classic Middle-Eastern dessert of layers and layers of filo pastry filled with nuts and soaked in a fragrant syrup. Sweet, sticky and crunchy all at once. The rose water gives a lightly fragrant flavour to the syrup but can be omitted or substituted with orange blossom water for a citrus flavour.
2 tsp rose water essence
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Filo x 25 sheets, defrosted at room temp
Vegetable or sunflower oil
Extra pistachios, chopped to garnish
Dried rose petals, to garnish
1. Start with syrup. Put the sugar and water in a pan over a low heat and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes until it thickens slightly to a syrup consistency. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice and rose water. Leave to cool completely.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan/gas mark 4. Take the filo pastry out of the fridge, allowing it to come to room temperature.
3. Pulse the nuts and spices in a processor so they are finely chopped and mix through with the spices.
4. Unwrap the filo and as your working, keep the rest of the filo sheets covered with a damp (but not wet) tea towel to prevent them from drying out.
5. Brush oil over the base of a large baking tray. Trim the filo sheets to fit the size of your tray. Lay out 10 sheets of filo over the base, brushing the oil between each one. Overlap or fold over the sides where necessary to fit in the tray. After 10 layers, scatter over half the nut mixture. Lay another 5 sheets, with oil brushed in between and scatter over the remaining nut mix. Cover with a final layer of 10 sheets of filo. Generously brush the top layer all over with oil.
6. Using a sharp knife, slice the baklava in the tray into diagonal squares. Place the tray in the oven for 25 minutes until deep golden, risen and crispy all over.
7. Immediately drizzle over half of the cool syrup, lovely crackling sound. Wait a few minutes as it soaks through the layers before pouring over the rest. Leave to cool completely, preferably for at least 2 hours to allow the syrup to soak in.
8. When cooled, slice through the previous knife cuts to separate the pieces. Sprinkle over the extra pistachios and rose petals and serve.