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
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.