Making easy Baklava with children (helping, not IN them)

I loved this post from Round the World in Eighty Bakes and am still in awe at Lauren for making filo pastry from SCRATCH.  We’ve made this cheatin’baklava before and it’s the closest to actual mud pie cooking with kids I’ve come across.

There were a few barriers to the smooth running I was hoping for but we soldiered on, dripping in butter, stuck up with syrup, pistachios adorning our eyebrows.

I could have sworn I had a bag of shelled pistachio nuts… well I didn’t so Zeph kindly set to shelling. My poor old (about 15 yrs) food processor choked at the grinding. A bit of experimentation showed it could manage about 10 nuts a time…so some of the prep took slightly longer than I expected.

We took about 400 g of nuts. We chose walnuts, almonds and pistachios. We left some out, whole and some chopped for decoration and to vary the texture.  

75g of sugar

25g butter

couple of cardamom seeds, crushed.

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

I usually put half the nuts and all the rest and whizz until it’s really really fine then add the rest of the nuts and grind until they’re rubble. This is much easier when your processor works. We also did just the walnuts and almonds first and made the flat baklava then did the pistachios after and added them to the rest of the mix so we could get different tastes. This is the mud pie element as you can mix it up and experiment to your heart content. I usually put out the big bowl of nut mix then some smaller plastic bowls for the addition of; rose syrup, orange oil, citrus zest dried cranberries, whole nuts, vanilla extract, stem ginger, ginger wine,rum – the moon’s your limit…

 We used two packets of ready rolled filo pastry with six sheets in each packet. The first packet got entirely used up in the flat cakes. I simply cut the six sheets in half which fitted my square tin and put six layers on the bottom – all liberally daubed with a mixture of melted butter and sunflower oil by my willing helper, I did put a square of substantial parchment paper on the bottom, mainly to aid with extraction

 

Then we pressed a generous layer of the walnut and almond mixture all over it and topped with another six layers of filo.  I carefully cut into squares before popping into a medium oven for  30/40 minutes. (Until golden brown)

 Secure in the knowledge that there was a tray of delicious cakes already cooking the next pastry packet was given over to experimentation. Much butter was spread, drops added, shapes rolled, pinched and packaged then sliced and adorned with nuts and fruit. Some methods work better than others – the very best I think was the cylinder/sausage roll approach but everything was ultimately edible… 

 

When this tray went into the oven I put the syrup on to cook. To make the dark syrup that looks best you need to caramelise some sugar first. For my own peace of mind this bit is utterly child free. Hot sugar is  a fearsome thing but not particularly difficult.

I put 100g of white sugar and 50ml of water in my very best thick bottomed pan and put it on high heat. DO NOT STIR (I have no reason for this but my granny’s advice…I think it makes it grainy) Do not do anything else, surrender a few minutes for this, it doesn’t take long but does need your attention. It will boil ferociously, wait for it to turn a gorgeous reddish brown and to smell of fairgrounds then add CAREFULLY 300ml of cold water (make some of the 300ml up with some lemon juice for a citrusy twist) and another 100 ml of sugar and a generous swirl of honey. Again do NOT stir and wait for the lump of caramel to dissolve into the boiling mass.

As the pastries come out of the oven spoon the hot syrup over and leave to soak up.

Serve with strong coffee and an insulin producing pancreas.

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11 responses to “Making easy Baklava with children (helping, not IN them)

  1. Thanks so much for the mention!! I love this post. All of your baklava looks amazing! I quite like the look of the parcels too. Perhaps I may have to try some more experimentation myself soon. You’re totally right about not stirring the sugar as when’s it’s stirred it tries to return to it’s original state… graduated sugar which ain’t great for syrup! looking forward to reading your next adventures soon

    • Thanks Lauren – the parcels are fiddley but a LOT of fun – it all tasted great but what doesn’t after being drenched in honey syrup?! I’ve promised Z we’ll do macaroons next as he was inspired by yours 🙂

      • oh wow! I’m very much looking forward to reading all about your macaroons too! Funny you should mention them I just had another go at them at the weekend and had a bit more success! They had the proper ‘feet’ and everything but unfortunately spread out rather flat and stuck to the tray… I will be having another go soon! ps. I dream of honey syrup! x

  2. It’s true. You MUST NOT stir, you can shake the pan but if you stir it the molecules try to get back to their original form (apparently).
    Gotta say, just the title of this post made me smile, the thought of baklava with children – in them – tee hee hee.

    • Ha! it was Z’s contribution after looking over my shoulder and made me laugh 😀 Glad to know Granny was on the money 🙂 Since I’d never dared disobey I hadn’t discovered the graininess 🙂

  3. My daughter loves baklava! I am definitely going to try this with her, thanks for sharing!

  4. Mmmmmmm They look sticky and delicious!

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