I can safely say that I have not eaten better Baklava! Or, indeed,a better filo pastry/butter/sugar combination !
My friend, Fayda, Egyptian, now residing in Dublin, had organised the making of Baklava along with the Kosheri, in, as I mentioned in an earlier post, a two in one deal ! (See the recipe for Kosheri by clicking here).
It was so good because it was made right there and then. Anything that I have eaten before has been out of boxes or at National Days(read about the Indian National Day by clicking here) of embassies where it has probably rested for a day or two. They have been good but nothing like this. The baklava had come straight from the oven when Fayda served me some. It was warm, crisp and smelling of butter, browned pastry and toasted nuts– need I say more?? I had a hard time not eating all that was on the plate- it was THAT good ! Fayda was on a diet and was picking on healthy fruit- – so although I wanted to eat ALL the little pieces like peanut -I had to look dignified and stop myself !
In Egypt, Fayda says, no one really makes Baklava at home–you just buy it in one of the many sweet shops– anything from a 100 gms to many kilos–much like we Indians buy our gulab jamuns and other sweets. It is eaten almost always with tea ,well after lunch or dinner. She makes them at home when she is abroad– and while eating them- you are in a tiny piece of heaven . Here is the recipe-
To fill a tray 15 inches x 12 inches:
Filo pastry ( NO substitute ), 1 and a 1/2 cups ground walnut(needless to say, make sure they are fresh) with 2 tbsp powdered sugar mixed in, 2 cups melted butter
For the syrup: 6 cups sugar, 3 cups water.
The syrup: Boil the water and sugar till it becomes fairly thick-like runny honey (it rhymes!), coats the back of a spoon, or , when you take a bit between your finger and thumb–and make a pinching motion it forms one thread. If it forms two-it is too thick.
Take one sheet of filo pastry and lay it on a clean surface. Randomly paint little bits of the melted butter with a brush onto the pastry. Lay the ground walnut and sugar mixture on one end of the width of the pastry–see below-
Start rolling it into a cigar till you reach the end of the pastry.
Lift it and lay it on a buttered baking tray.
Continue to make many such cigars with sheets of filo and ground walnut . Keep laying them side by side onto the tray till it gets filled.
With a sharp knife slice up the cigars into smaller pieces, taking care not to disturb their positions. With a ladle pour melted butter all over the top. It will enter all the crevices.
Bake at 180 degrees C or gas mark 4 or just medium temperature for about 15 or 20 minutes till golden brown.In the oven the pastry, sort- of, bakes and fries in the butter-fabulous!
Remove from oven. With a ladle spoon syrup all over the top of the baklava till you can see its sweetness permeating the deepest part of the crisp,buttery pastry .
Tilt the tray and pour out the excess syrup .
Wait till slightly cool.
And eat it straight away–if you can ! So there it is– authentic without compromise ! I promise you will not be able to stop at 1 or 2 or 3 !
Eat it, as Fayda says, Arab style, with health and wealth !
Thank you Fayda for sharing and Mimo for demonstrating !