Spiced lemon myrtle & macadamia baklava

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    20-40

    , depending how large you cut them
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

In late 2007 we ate the most delicious meal at the home of Ulker and Mehmet Yasin, friends of Tarik and Savas’s in Istanbul. The baklava they served had been delivered that day from the town of Gaziantep. This town, in south-eastern Anatolia, is thought to be one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. And their speciality is baklava. We were served three different types, all made with the greenest pistachios imaginable. The filo pastry used in them was soft and subtle. The nuts were like fine breadcrumbs, and they were neither overly sticky or sweet. They were a revelation. However, I have no idea how they were made. The baklava I make is somewhat sweeter, as Turkish baklava has no honey in it, and my shop-bought filo pastry more crunchy - but mine are delicious too! Years ago my sister Tracey and her partner Roesheen had a biscuit company in Byron Bay, Australia, and they specialised in making biscuits and slices using indigenous Australian ingredients (bush foods) such as macadamias, wattleseed, etc. So it’s for their son, Kai, that I created this recipe. Lemon myrtle, indigenous to Australia’s sub-tropical rainforests, has a flavour very similar to lemon verbena, so use that or finely grated unwaxed lemon zest if you can’t locate any. Use a mild honey.

Ingredients

  • 300 g macadamia nuts
  • 1 Tbsp dried ground lemon myrtle
  • 60 g unrefined caster sugar
  • 3 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • a generous pinch of saffron
  • 8 cloves, ground
  • 1 x 400-g packet filo pastry
  • 250 g butter, melted

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a deep-sided 22-cm square, or 18 x 25-cm baking tin with non-stick baking parchment and brush it with a little butter.

Place the nuts, lemon myrtle, sugar, poppy seeds, saffron and ground cloves into a food processor and grind until you have crumbs, not too fine, but definitely not coarse.

Cut the filo sheets to approximately the same size as your baking tin. Lay six sheets of filo snugly into the baking tin, brushing each sheet with butter as you stack them up and pressing them in firmly. Scatter one-third of the nut mixture on top then lay five sheets of filo on top, again brushing each sheet with butter as you lay them in. Add another third of the nuts, then five buttered sheets of filo. Then the last third of the nuts and finally six buttered sheets of filo. Make sure you press the pastry down firmly as you layer it up. Bake for 60 minutes in the centre of the oven.

While it’s cooking make your syrup by gently boiling the honey, sugar, lemon juice and cloves with 250 ml water until it resembles a thin syrup, around 6-8 minutes. Turn the heat off but keep it warm.

Once the baklava is cooked, bring the syrup back to the boil, stir in the orange blossom water and immediately pour it over the pastry (it’ll bubble a bit), then leave it to cool down, pressing a sheet of baking parchment on top after 15 minutes to help keep it flat. Leave to cool, preferably overnight, then invert onto a chopping board and cut with a sharp serrated knife for best results. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.

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