feature image baklava

My First Time Making Baklava

Eid is almost among us! Being my first Eid as a married woman, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to make baklava. As my first time making baklava in a family of incredible cooks and bakers with generational family recipes, I wanted to add my own mix to the dinner table. Something new. Something fresh. That’s when I came across Cleobuttera‘s Pistachio Baklava recipe. As I’m a total beginner, this is the perfect opportunity to share my experience making baklava for the first time. So, here we go. My wins, challenges, did my husband, and even more, my mother, approve?

Tasbih’s (Cleobuttera) baklava differs to the traditional Herzegovinian one I have grown up with. The recipe uses pistachios over walnuts and infuses the intoxicating aromas of Orange Blossom Water into the sticky, sugary, syrup we drizzle at the end. This is the combination that won me over. With that, Daniel went on a hunt for me and brought home all the ingredients I needed to put together my first baklava.

The process

There was something sentimental about successfully separating the phyllo pastry sheets, and layering them between golden, melted ghee. This was something I’ve watched my mother do Eid after Eid. To be able to pull off the delicate process was a win in itself. I finally understood her shushing me as I’d chatter on about my day at school, while she tried to keep count of which layer she was up to. I considered each phyllo and pistachio layer a small victory. The finish line was the sizzle I heard as the orange blossom syrup hit the pan after baking. We’ll get to that later.

My first layer of pistachio, sitting on top of 8 golden, buttery layers of phyllo.
My first layer of pistachio, sitting on top of 8 golden, buttery layers of phyllo.

As Daniel and I chatted, layed phyllo, spread ghee, and kept a tally, I came across one of my first errors; there wasn’t enough melted ghee to finish. This is the time I had my first meltdown. I am not a confident enough cook to clarify by own butter, let alone after already building half the baklava using ghee. Would the flavours clash? Don’t worry, though, because Daniel (total lifesaver and prince to the rescue) rushed to two stores to find the ghee we needed for me to finish. Coming back in hurry, we melted the new ghee, and continued layering until the final sheet. I cut the diamonds (cue meltdown number two, as they were all uneven) and spread the remaining ghee on top before placing in the oven.

Wonky cutting, but almost finished!
Out the oven!

The next 1.5 hours of waiting were not my finest. I was nervous and stressed. So much so, that I didn’t even want to look at the baklava in the oven, as I’d already considered it a failure. Talk about putting pressure on yourself. I finally took a peek and couldn’t believe it – my baklava actually looked like baklava. The timer rang and we finally took it out from the oven. The apartment smelled incredible! It only got better when we poured the orange blossom sauce on top, and carefully measured a small sprinkle of pistachio on top of each diamond. Success!

We let the baklava sit overnight, and helped ourselves to a piece with our morning coffee. I was shocked. I made this. Me! It was moist but not oversaturated in syrup, flaky on top, but not dry. It was everything you’d hope for in your first baklava. From photos alone, my family is amazed and are coming over tomorrow for a taste-test before we have to share it a piece with everyone else. If there is something new you want to try and do, I encourage you to do it! The reward at the end is so satisfying.

Eid is in three days and I am so excited to have something I’m proud of on the family dinner table.

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    Amazing! ❤️❤️

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