The Irresistible Delight of Baklava
Baklava, a dessert as rich in history as it is in flavour, has been enchanting taste buds for centuries. With its layers of phyllo dough, nuts, and sweet syrup, this delectable treat has become a beloved dessert around the world. Today, we embark on a culinary journey to explore the origins, ingredients, and the irresistible charm of baklava.
A Sweet History
Baklava’s roots can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, where a similar pastry called “Layla” was enjoyed. Over the centuries, this sweet delight travelled through the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, adapting to local tastes and ingredients along the way. Its name itself is believed to have been derived from the Mongolian word for “to tie” or “to wrap,” which is quite fitting given the layers and layers of pastry that make up this dessert.
Ingredients That Create Magic
At the heart of baklava’s allure is its simple yet harmonious combination of ingredients:
Phyllo Dough: Thin, delicate sheets of phyllo dough are essential to baklava’s texture. When baked, they become wonderfully crisp and flaky.
Nuts: A mixture of finely chopped nuts, often including walnuts, pistachios, or almonds, adds a rich, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch to each bite.
Spices: Cinnamon is a common spice used to infuse the layers with warmth and depth of flavour.
Sweet Syrup: A fragrant mixture of sugar, water, and a touch of lemon juice is poured over the baked layers, infusing the dessert with sweetness and moisture.
400 grams of phyllo dough, thawed
2 cups of mixed nuts (e.g., walnuts, pistachios), finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C) and butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- In a bowl, mix the chopped nuts and ground cinnamon together.
- Unroll the phyllo dough carefully and place it between two slightly damp kitchen towels to prevent drying.
- Start by placing one sheet of phyllo dough in the prepared dish. Brush it generously with melted butter. Repeat this process, layering and buttering each sheet until you’ve used about half of the phyllo sheets.
- Sprinkle a layer of the nut mixture evenly over the buttered phyllo layers.
- Continue layering the remaining phyllo sheets on top of the nut mixture, generously brushing each layer with melted butter.
- Using a knife, cut the baklava into square shapes.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes or until the baklava is golden brown and crisp.
- While it bakes, make the syrup: Combine sugar, water, honey, lemon zest, and vanilla extract in a saucepan. Boil it, then reduce heat and simmer for about 05 minutes.
- Once the baklava is out of the oven, immediately pour the hot syrup evenly over the hot pastry. Allow it to cool completely, absorbing the syrup.
- Let the baklava sit for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavours to meld and the syrup to penetrate the layers.
- Serve and enjoy your baklava.
By Vishesh Singh