Hey guys! Hope everyone is having a wonderful week 🙂 I am sorry that it took so long long, but finally, here it is. 🙂
Some of you lovely people may be looking at this going Wtf??!! Custard Baklava?? You mad, brah?! and others among you might simply noticed that This girl can’t cut straight at all 😐 , which, hand on my heart, I honestly admit I cannot do. But, in regards to the former, you are simply going to have to trust me here when I say that this is one of my favourite ways to make baklava (minus the bad cutting lol). In fact, this baklava is actually based loosely on an Eastern Mediterranean recipe called Baklawa Muhalabiya. Mahalabiya, if you are unfamiliar with the word, is a milk pudding/custard that is much loved in the Middle East, with everyone claiming it as their own. But in this context, we are not looking at a milk pudding flavoured with rosewater and cardamom (although that filling would be AMAZING), but instead, we are focussing on something of a similar consistency, i.e. custard. So, as a translation might go, we have ourselves a custard-filled baklava. Taa-daa!
I’ve often come across people who find baklava rather intimidating, but I really want to reassure you that does not have to be at all. Sure, you do need to make sure that you keep the filo pastry under a damp cloth to make sure it doesn’t dry out before using. And you definitely need to be generous with your ghee (I promise you, it won’t come out greasy). But other than that, making this baklava is a piece of cake (even though Djamo told me not to make any cake anymore 😉 ).
In regards to the fermented honey: guys, you must try it! I didn’t realise that there was a difference between mead (a honey beverage) and fermented honey until I began researching them. When it comes to down to it, mead is of a drinkable consistency whilst fermented honey will be like syrup or thicker as normal honey would be. If you add too much water, it becomes mead, if you only add a small amount, you will get a relatively thick, fermented honey. You basically bottle up some honey and water in a jar along with any spices, herbs, flowers, etc., that you want to flavour the honey with and just wait a couple of months before the honey is ready to be eaten. It’s great to enjoy the flavours of the season that you were able to capture with it.
This baklava was made specially to celebrate Midsummer last weekend, when my neighbours and my little family had a little dinner together (my neighbour made the most delicious lentil salad with onions and garlic that was drizzled in a balsamic glaze), took photos, wore homemade crowns I made from some wild flowers I picked on an early morning walk with Djamo (I also sacrificed some of my roses, rosemary and lady’s mantle from my garden). Naturally, we got attacked by mosquitos as the sun began to set (which, funny, enough, had happened a week or so earlier when we all enjoyed a BBQ outside – I guess I never learn 😐 ). I really wanted to make something a little different to the usual strawberry pavlova that I usually make, and since elderflower is one of the seasonal stars of June, it felt like a perfect idea to try it out.
Naturally, we had a lovely time just being together, laughing and just enjoying the beauty and abundance that surrounded us, and I think, personally, that is what it is all about.
Before I finish this post I do want to mention something important that I feel I have not been able to express enough: thank you so so much to everyone who has been supporting me on my culinary journey. I’d also like to thank all the lovely people on Instagram who are forever an inspiration to me, both in character and in your creativity in the kitchen (especially you lovely lot on the Instagram Pod 😀 ). You are all so strong, hardworking and just overall the kindest, most positive people I have ever met. Thank you!
I hope you all had a lovely Midsummer this year!
Darjeeling and Lemon Baklava with Fermented Elderflower Honey
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time
Makes: 20cm x 30cm tray
700ml whole milk
5-6tbsp darjeeling loose tea leaves
200g caster sugar
1tbsp ground vanilla
zest and juice of 2 lemons
150g fine semolina
550g filo pastry
100ml ghee, for brushing
200ml fermented elderflower honey (recipe to follow)
3-4tbsp acacia honey (to decorate)
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan-assisted) 350ºF.
Pour the milk along with the tea leaves into a saucepan and over a medium heat, whilst stirring continuously, allow the milk to come to a boil for 5 minutes before removing from the heat and placing a lid over the top. Allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the caster sugar, vanilla, eggs, zest and juice of the lemons in a bowl. Set aside. When the milk has achieved a good flavour, discard the tea leaves and add about 40ml, one tablespoon at a time of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whilst continuing to whisk, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk and add the semolina and butter, and over a medium heat, cook until the custard begins to thicken (approximately 5-6 minutes). Remove from the heat and set aside covered with a lid.
Melt the ghee. Now, working quickly, cut the filo pastry to size (the filo needs to be covered by a damp cloth when not being handled) and, take one sheet, place in the prepared baking tray with deep sides, brush liberally (and I mean liberally!) with the ghee. Place another layer of the filo on top of the bottom layer (cover the rest of the filo with a damp cloth) and brush liberally with ghee and continue until 7 layers have been laid on top. Pour in the filling and layer the rest of the filo (another 7 layers) on top of this. Pour the last of the ghee over the top layer and brush evenly all over.
Using a knife or a pair of scissors, cut the pastry diagonally into diamonds, or into squares. Place in the oven for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to 170ºC (150ºc fan-assisted) 325ºF and continue to cook for a further 25-30 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Immediately remove from the oven and pour the elderflower honey all over, ensuring that it seeps into all the cracks and slices. Allow to cool completely for a good couple of hours at room temperature covered with a clean tea towel before enjoying with a drizzle of a delicate tasting honey and a cup of darjeeling tea. Eat within 2 days.
Fermented Elderflower Honey
adapted from: Aorta
Cooking time: 20 minutes, plus 2-3 months infusion time
This honey is quite delicious with its strong, elderflower flavour. My honey was of a consistency of syrup when I used it here, but if you find that the honey is still too thick to use, simply add a couple of tablespoons of water to the honey before pouring over the baklava.
You can, of course, use any flowers, herbs or spices that you desire to infuse the honey with. Try it on English muffins, cakes, pancakes etc. I also hear garlic honey is the stuff of dreams, particularly if brushed on a pizza (or if you need a seasonal pick-me-up)! You basically place as many raw garlic bulbs into a jar as possible and pour over the honey and water. Leave for a good few months, releasing gases when needed and then enjoying.
600ml local, light coloured honey
50ml warm water
8-9 head of elderflower
Collect and shake the elderflowers gently to remove any debris and insects and fill as much elderflower as you can into a sealable jar. Place the honey into a bowl with the warm water and stir until mixed well. Pour into the jar full of elderflowers and seal tightly. Store at room temperature in a dark, dry place. (Note: it is essential to ensure that you open the jar once every three days or so, as the fermentation process could potentially cause the glass to crack due to the pressure build-up in the jar).
When the escaping gases from the jar make a strong ‘phsss’ noice when opened (usually within 2-3 months), discard the flowers and begin using (you will, however, still need to release trapped gases from the jar as before).
Thank you for reading.