Perhaps the most famous of the Turkish sweets, baklava is surprisingly difficult to make well. It is possible to cheat by using ready-prepared filo pastry but, if you have the patience, it is worth while attempting to make the real thing. Once mastered, it opens doors to a variety of other delectable sticky pastries: balkabağı baklavası, sheets of pastry layered with sliced pumpkin and soaked in syrup; dürüm, a roll of paper-thin pastry filled with chopped pistachios; bülbül yuvası, ‘nightingale’s nest’, created by spreading chopped nuts over a sheet of pastry, rolling it into a wrinkled tube, then winding it into a spiral like a nest; şöbiyet, diamond-shaped pastries filled with chopped pistachios in a soft, sweet semolina paste; and sütlü nüriye, pastry layered with almond shavings and soaked in a milk syrup. Baklava can be made with chopped walnuts, pistachios or almonds. The sheets of pastry must be as thin as possible, which is easier to attain with an oklava, a thin rolling pin. Baklava should never be stored in the refrigerator, as the fat congeals and the pastry absorbs the moisture and becomes soggy. Always serve at room temperature.
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