-Greek-

Christmas baklava

Ingredients

    200g almonds (crushed)

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1 x packet filo pastry

    250g melted butter

    1  jar of mincemeat

    240ml water

    450g caster sugar

    50ml honey

    115ml fresh lemon juice

    1 cinnamon stick

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Dessert serves 12

Baklava, for those uninitiated, is a Mediterranean dessert made by layering crisp sheets of filo pastry with almonds and cinnamon, all soaked in a homemade syrup or honey. Essentially, it’s a delicate parcel of sweet deliciousness. Little is known about the origin, although it is believed the recipe spread with the Byzantium movement, moving through Persia, Turkey and Greece, which is probably the reason for many claiming it as their own.    Traditionally it is enjoyed on special religious occasions as a treat, with the Greeks enjoying it during Easter and Christmas. In theory, they will create it using 40 layers of pastry, representing the 40 days of lent.  There are hundreds of variations and methods one can apply from stuffing, rolling or even shredding the filo to use it as a topping. However, in our house, we have inherited a traditional layered version, with fillings between each layer.   Here we’ve added a little festive sparkle to this classic dessert, creating a Christmas baklava layered with mincemeat – it’s our take on a delicious mince pie.

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1.

Before you start with the baklava, make the syrup so that it can cool. Mix all of the ingredients for the syrup in a pan and boil on slow heat for 10 mins and leave to cool.

2.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and grease an ovenproof dish.

3.

Mix the crushed nuts with cinnamon powder and cut the filo pastry sheets so they are the size of your dish.

4.

Start building the layers in the dish with a sheet of pastry. Brush with melted butter and spread with some mincemeat. Add another layer of filo, brush with more butter and sprinkle some of the nut mixtures over. Continue to layer, alternating between the mincemeat and spiced nuts until you have reached your desired amount of layers (this recipe should make around eight).

5.

Slice the baklava into diamond-shaped portions before placing it in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

6.

Take the baklava out of the oven and pour over the syrup immediately. Leave to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea and some cream or ice-cream.

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