Tagged: syrup

Baklava

I am so excited to finally write this blog post! As I said last week, baklava has been on my ‘To Bake’ list for a long time and after watching the Great British Bake Off contestants attempt them in the semi final it finally felt like the right time to do it. It also seemed appropriate to do a Middle Eastern themed bake since I am moving to Qatar next month!

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There are lots of variations of baklava depending on the country. Unlike the Bake Off contestants I decided to stick to a more traditional Turkish flavour baklava – pistachio and almond with a syrup infused with cardamom and orange. In Greece, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries ingredients such as walnuts, rose water and cloves are often used.   

I have a confession – I didn’t make the filo pastry because lets face it…ain’t nobody got time for that! Even the queen of baking Mary Berry admits she would never make her own filo now that you can buy good prepared filo in the supermarket. Also if you look in any modern cookery book at recipes requiring filo they will simply say ‘packet of ready-made filo’ in the ingredients list. I would like to try to make my own filo pastry one day but since this was my first experience using it I thought I would take the easy option. If it’s good enough for Mary, it’s good enough for me!


IngredientsIMG_0337

150g shelled pistachios
100g blanched almonds
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp mixed spice
125g unsalted butter
12 sheets filo pastry

For the syrup:
250g caster sugar
125ml runny honey
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 tsp orange blossom essence

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • In a food processor, pulse the pistachios and almonds until finely ground. Then add the cinnamon and mixed spice.
  • Melt the butter on a low heat. Meanwhile, lay the sheets of filo on a worktop and cover with a moist towel to prevent the pastry drying out.
  • Lightly brush a rectangular baking tray with butter. Lay the first sheet of filo directly onto the tray and brush liberally with butter.
  • Repeat this process with 3 more sheets of filo. Then spread half of the nut mixture over the pastry.
  • Continue to layer 4 more sheets of filo, buttering between each layer as you go.
  • Add the remaining nut mixture and cover with the remaining 4 layers of filo as before. Brush the top with the remaining butter.
  • Trim the excess pastry from the edges. Cut into vertical strips about 5cm wide and then diagonally about 5cm apart to create the diamond shaped pieces. (These can be made smaller or larger depending on personal preference – mine were big baklava!) Ensure you slice all the way down to the bottom of the tray or they will be hard to separate when baked.
  •  Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 170ºC and bake for a further 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile make the syrup. In a large saucepan dissolve the sugar and honey in 250ml water on a low heat. Once dissolved, add the cardamom pods, lemon zest and juice and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 15mins until it has turned slightly thicker.
  • Strain the syrup and add the orange blossom essence.
  • Remove the baklava from the oven and gradually pour over the syrup. It will take a while for all the syrup to soak in. Once cooled remove the baklava from the tray and enjoy!

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Although there are quite a few steps to this recipe I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was (I’m sure I wouldn’t be saying that if I had made the filo!)

They smelt and tasted so delicious. Not at all modest I know! The tops were slightly crispier than baklava that I have had in the past so if I made these again I might not bake them for as long but the syrup made the the layers perfectly sweet and sticky so this wasn’t a problem.

To make sure that I’m not extremely biased I shared these with my Greek friends who really enjoyed the revani I made a few months ago. They gave me so much positive feedback which was lovely. They keep telling me I’m in the wrong profession. So either they think I’m a really bad engineer or my baking is pretty good…

H xx

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Revani

 

I loved my family summer holidays when I was growing up. For many years we went to Greece and I have really happy memories from these holidays – we all learnt to waterski, I began scuba diving and we experienced a large earthquake! Greece is such a beautiful country, with some amazing food. So this week I decided to make a Greek cake called Revani. This is a moist and delicious semolina cake flavoured with orange and sweetened with a syrup flavoured with lemon and vanilla pods. 
 
To make the cake you will need to following ingredients:
 
 
5 eggs, separated 
100g caster sugar
50g plain sugar
100g  semolina
pinch of salt
1 orange, zest
50g unsalted butter, melted
50g no-peel marmalade 
 
For the syrup:
250g caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, zest
vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
 
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 24cm spring form cake tin and line the sides and base with baking parchment. 
2. Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar in a mixer until light and creamy. While the machine is running on a low speed, add the flour & semolina followed by the salt, orange zest, melted butter and marmalade. Beat until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently fold into the batter in 3 additions being careful not to knock the air out. 
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. 
5. While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup – put all of the ingredients, including the vanilla pods, in a small saucepan with 300 ml water and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and summer gently for 10 mins. The syrup will thicken slightly but won’t be very thick. Leave to cool slightly. 

 

6. While the cake is still warm and in its tin, cut into triangles. Strain the syrup, removing the vanilla pods, and slowly pour over the cake. 
7. Leave to cool and serve with Greek yoghurt and chopped pistachios. 

The photos do not do this cake justice at all! It was beautifully moist and sticky from the sweet syrup with a subtle orange flavour from the cake. I loved the texture of the semolina, it’s so different to a fluffy flour cake. It’s amazing how smells or tastes can remind you of happy memories. I’m positive they served this desert in the hotel restaurant all those years ago because the taste was very familiar and immediately transported me back to my Greek holidays.

 
I asked two of my Greek friends if they would like to try it and give me their opinion, since they know what real Greek Revani should taste like. I was a little nervous but they loved it and said it was exactly how it should be! So it was a successful first attempt at Greek baking – my next challenge will be to make baklava. 
 
Hannah xx