Years ago, the summer before I went to university, I went to Turkey with my family on holiday. I was nervous about going to university, and worried, as every woman is at some point in her life, by my post-A levels weight. It wasn’t the first time I’d tried baklava, but it was definitely a formative experience nonetheless. I think I ate a piece of baklava after nearly every meal, and in Turkey they don’t skimp on the portions. Nevertheless, I came back from that holiday thinner than I’d ever been, a good lesson for life that denial never gives you anything, but regular injections of sugar will solve all one’s problems (I think regular swimming and no snacks also contributed).

I was a bit worried about trying these, but I used a BBC food recipe, which often simplify things for the complete cooking idiot, so it turned out pretty well in the end. One warning – make sure you add ALL the sugar syrup. It seems like a hell of a lot, but trust me, the baklava will absorb it, and you need it to get that tooth aching sweetness.

Baklava

18 sheets ready made filo pastry (I’m not apologising for that. Have you seen how thin it is?! I don’t have the upper arm strength)
8oz butter
8oz mixture of walnuts and pistachios, chopped to within an inch of their lives
2 tbspn granulated sugar
1 tspn ground cardamon
12 oz granulated sugar
300ml water
1 tbspn lemon juice

Preheat the oven to gas 4. Grease a baking tray thoroughly. Melt the butter. Lay 10 filo pastry sheets on top of each other and brush each one with butter. Mix together 2 tbspn sugar, cardamon and nut mixture, and spread over the pastry sheets. Then add the rest of the sheets, brushing each with butter until all the butter is used. Mark a criss-cross pattern in the top layers with a knife.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and puffy. Leave to cool. Make the sugar syrup by dissolving the 12 oz sugar in water with the lemon juice. It should take about 20 minutes, and look golden brown, but it won’t be immediately obvious it’s syrup. Taste it. Pour the syrup into the grooves in the baklava, and keep going until it’s all used up. Do it! Then you have to leave it for a day or so to soak up the liquid.

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