I’m not usually very productive on a Saturday but today has been a day of firsts that’s for sure. First of all I was up and dressed and out of the house by 9.15am to get to my very first sewing lesson. I went with some friends to the charming shop and workroom of Guthrie & Ghani in Moseley. We went to learn the basics but came away with rather beautiful and quite professional looking cushion covers. The actual workshop is totally stunning with high ceilings, exposed beams and lovely homemade decorations.
Afterwards we had lunch at Damascena which specialises in middle eastern food and pastries. Luckily we were all hungry as the food was plentiful and delicious. I intended to take two pieces of baklava home but ate them before we even left the shop.
I arrived home inspired by my creative morning but sadly lacking a sewing machine I couldn’t practice my new skills, so returned to baking and made a little tray of baklava (another first). I adapted a recipe I found in one of my cook books and here it is.
FOR THE BAKLAVA
150 g shelled pistachio nuts plus a few extra to scatter over the top
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200 g ready-made filo pastry
100 g butter, melted
FOR THE SYRUP
150 ml water
175 g caster sugar
70 ml clear honey
1 sticks cinnamon, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of an orange (I used a drop of orange essence as I didn’t have an orange in the house)
1-2 tsp rose water
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until coarsely ground, then mix in the ground cinnamon.
3. Using a pastry brush, lightly butter a 8” x 6” tin or ovenproof dish. Unfold the filo pastry, covering it immediately with a damp clean tea towel to stop it drying out and cracking.
4. Start layering the sheets of filo pastry into the dish, brushing each sheet with melted butter before placing the next layer on top. After five layers, scatter over one-third of the crushed pistachios.
5. Repeat step 4 another two times and add then cover with five more layers of pastry. Butter the top of the last layer and cut into small diamonds or squares.
6. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 40–45 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp,reducing the temperature to 170C/gas 3 during cooking if the baklava looks as though it is browning too quickly.
7. For the syrup: place all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by one-third. Stir occasionally, then leave to cool.
8. Remove the baklava from the oven and spoon half the cooked syrup all over the top. Leave for five minutes, then spoon over the remaining syrup. Finely chop the remaining pistachio nuts and scatter over the top. Allow the baklava to cool completely before removing the individual pieces from the dish with a palette knife. Serve.
The bunnies also had a lovely day. They discovered my herb garden and sheared the tops off all the mint and the pretty little flowers. I spent all afternoon trying to stop them getting back in as now they know where all the good stuff is!