Legendary Dishes | Baklava (syrup pastries)

Baklava has been making a westwards journey for thousands of years, gradually moving from Damascus in Syria into Gaziantep in south-east Anatolia onto Istanbul where it became associated with the janissaries during ramadan.

The baklava procession started by Süleyman in the 16th century is never-ending as the fame of this sweet pastry continues to spread.

Turkish baklava is now characterised by its relationship with the pistachios and walnuts grown in eastern Anatolia, but a long time ago it was made with clotted cream, and sometimes with nothing more than a sugar syrup.

This is the ‘ordinary’ baklava.

Baklava

Butter

  • 500 g butter

Dough

  • 1 kg durum wheat white flour
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Water

Rolling Flour

  • 50 g corn starch / fine polenta flour
  • 50 g flour

Syrup

  • 750 g sugar
  • 350 g water

Whisk soda into juice. Sieve flour onto a clean work surface, make a well and add salt, juice-soda liquid and sufficient water to form a soft dough. Knead and divide into 12 equal pieces.

Leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Combine the two batches of rolling flour.

Melt the butter.

Roll out each piece of dough, about 25 centimetres in width.

Brush butter on nine pieces, place three pieces on top of each other to make three piles, top each one with an unbuttered piece.

Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C and grease baking tray.

Roll each pastry pile, folding the pastry over the rolling pin to stretch it, paper-thin, less than 1 millimetre. Cut the pastry into sheets the size of the baking tray.

Place a sheet of pastry on the bottom, brush with butter. Repeat with remaining sheets.

Cut the pastry into diamond shapes, slicing deep.

Brush the top of each diamond with a liberal amount of butter.

Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Make a syrup with sugar and water. Leave it to cool, pour over the baklava.


Gaziantep Baklava

The butter-sweet aromatic baklava made in Gaziantep with local pistachios is the most iconic and traditional of these Turkish confections. Golden on top, bright green in the middle, syrupy yellow on the bottom, the Gaziantep Baklava has no substitute.

Making it requires skill and patience. Enjoy the experience, and share the magic with the artisans of Gaziantep.

Afterall they have been hand-making baklava since the days of Gilgamesh!

Butter

  • 1 kg butter, salt-free
  • 500 g Antep pistachios (Antep fıstığı), chopped
  • 100 g wheat starch

Dough

  • 1 kg durum wheat white flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 g salt
  • Water

Filling

  • 500 g milk
  • 50 g semolina

Rolling Flour

  • 75 g corn starch / fine polenta flour
  • 75 g flour

Syrup

  • 750 g sugar
  • 350 g water

Sieve flour onto a clean work surface, make a well and break in the eggs, salt and sufficient water to form a soft dough. Knead and divide into 12 equal pieces. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Boil milk vigorously, add semolina and stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Leave to cool.

Combine the two batches of rolling flour.

Melt the butter.

Roll out each piece of dough, about 25 centimetres in width.

Brush butter liberally on nine pieces, place three pieces on top of each other to make three piles, top each one with an unbuttered piece.

Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease baking tray.

Roll each pastry pile, folding the pastry over the rolling pin to stretch it, paper-thin, less than 1 millimetre. Cut the pastry into sheets the size of the baking tray.

Place a sheet of pastry on the bottom, sprinkle with wheat starch, a thin layer of semolina cream, and an even layer of pistachios. Repeat with all but the last sheet.

Cut the pastry into equal diamond shapes, slicing deep.

Brush the top of each diamond with a liberal amount of remaining butter.

Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Make a syrup with sugar and water. Leave to cool, pour over the baklava diamonds.


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