Sunday, 29 April 2012

Orange Baklava

I'm not ashamed to say that when I go to Spain I eat Paella, in the states I'll have a burger or two, Schnitzel in Germany etc. If somebody does something well, what's wrong with sampling the national / traditional dish. What I then search for is the ultimate Thai green curry, the best pizza or the to die for Bouillabaisse. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll love Baklava. I've eaten dozens in varying countries and despite never having a bad one, I've yet to have one to send my tastometer off the scale.

I've a beautiful book by the wonderful Silvena Rowe called Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume. The pictures are so good, you could almost eat them. Maybe they should invent scratch and sniff cookery books! Anyway, this recipe is amazing. The traditionalists may claim this isn't a proper Baklava, but to take a simple dish to another level is one of the things that inspires me about cooking. Another tip, if you live in or around London, check out your nearest Turkish Food Centre (TFC). They stock a great array of Eastern Mediterranean ingredients and are as cheap as chickpeas. This recipe would serve 8 people at around 70p per head.

Ingredients : 350g caster sugar, 1 tbsp orange juice, 350ml water, 2tbsp orange blossom water, 2 large oranges, vanilla pod, 1tbsp marmalade, 400g filo pastry, 150g melted butter, 100g chopped pistachios

1. To make the syrup, place the sugar, orange juice and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup thickens. Add the blossom water and allow to cool.

2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the oranges. Simmer for 45 mins until soft. Remove the fruit and leave to cool. Slice open and remove the pips. Then place the oranges including the skin into a food processor and blitz to a smooth puree.

3. Place the puree into a muslin bag or cloth and squeeze out as much juice as possible. Place the pulp into a bowl and add the scraped out vanilla seeds and the marmalade. Mix together.

4. Pre-heat oven to 180c. Cut filo sheets to fit size of dish. Brush baking tin with melted butter and start layering up the pastry. After each layer, brush with more butter. Do not press down.

5. After 8 sheets, gently spoon over the puree and spread evenly. Then continue the layering process for another 8-10 sheets. Cut the baklava into squares or diamonds and place in oven for 30 mins.

6. Reduce heat to 150c and cook for a further 15-20 mins until golden and puffy. Once cooked, pour over the cooled syrup ensuring that every gap is filled. Sprinkle over the pistachios.

7. Once cooled completely, serve with either ice-cream or mascarpone.

The combination of textures makes this baklava stand out from others, not to mention the creamy, zingy orange filling. It's about 11.30am now, time for my elevenses which means a nice cup of coffee and maybe another square of this scrumptious delight.

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