In a previous article, you learned how to make all the different kinds of pastry. Here are some homemade pastry recipes to put your skills to good use.
Making pastry is pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect as they say! Yes, you can buy very good ready-made pastry in the shops but it can’t compare to one that you make yourself. The easiest pastry to make is shortcrust. It can be used in sweet or savoury recipes and should be crisp and golden once baked.
Shortcrust Pastry Recipe Ideas
These sweet and savoury recipes are made from shortcrust pastry. Just remember not to handle the pastry too much and to chill it before using it to line your pie tin. For more information visit how to make homemade pastry
Creamy Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie
This tasty double-crust pie has a sumptuous filling of tender chicken, smoked ham, and leeks in a creamy sauce. Once you’ve made this, I guarantee that you’ll want to make it again. Serves 4.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, or the same quantity of cooked roast chicken
1 chicken stock cube
250 ml of the cooking liquid
75g of butter
2 leeks, washed and sliced thinly
30g plain flour
200 ml of full-fat milk
150 ml double cream
150g thick-sliced smoked ham, chopped
Salt and pepper
350g plain flour, sifted
200g chilled butter, cubed
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
A pinch of salt
First of all, poach the chicken. Put it in a pan and crumble over the stock cube. Pour over 350 ml of water and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Reserve the cooking liquid.
Fry the leeks in 25g of butter over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Tip them into a bowl. Melt the remaining 50g of butter in the same pan and add the flour. Stir until a stiff paste has formed then add the milk bit by bit, stirring vigorously, until you have a smooth, thick sauce.
Gradually add 250 ml of the cooking liquid from the chicken breasts and stir well between each addition. The sauce should be the consistency of thick cream by now. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the double cream. Leave to cool completely.
Now you need to make the pastry. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and add the chilled butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and milk and stir with a palette knife, then bring the mixture together with your hands, working very gently, forming the dough into a ball. Wrap in cling film and pop it into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
Cut the pastry ball into 2 pieces, weighing out 280g for the pie lid. Roll out the larger piece on a floured board or work surface until it’s about 3 mm thick.
Lightly butter a 23 cm round pie dish and pick up the pastry on the rolling pin, taking it over to the dish and allowing it to fall in gently. Press the base and edges firmly against the inside of the dish. Stir the ham, leeks, and diced chicken breast into the cooled white sauce and pour it into the pie dish, flattening it out with the back of a spoon.
Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid for the pie. Brush the edges of the pie with water and lay the pastry lid on top, pressing it down firmly. Make a seal by pressing the prongs of a fork all around the edges of the pie, then use a sharp knife to cut off the excess pastry, giving it a neat finish.
Brush the surface of the pie with milk or beaten egg, make 2 holes in the top to allow steam to escape, and bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for about 35 minutes, by which time the pastry will be golden brown and the filling piping hot.
This is very filling so it just needs a green vegetable to accompany it.
Steak and Mushroom Pie
This pie is very economical to make as it uses the cheaper cuts of beef like brisket or braising steak. Long, slow cooking of the meat is key to the end result. The beef should be almost falling apart, flavouring the gravy with its juices. Serves 4 – 6.
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry (see recipe above)
750g of braising steak or brisket, cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
150 ml red wine
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
500 ml beef stock (a stock cube is fine)
1 dried bay leaf
250g mushrooms, wiped clean and halved
20g of butter
Salt and pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, non-stick pan and fry the cubes of beef until browned. You may need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the beef as it cooks and tip it into a casserole dish along with the flour. Toss to coat the meat in the flour.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pan and fry the onions for about 10 minutes, until softened. Turn up the heat and pour in the wine, scraping up the bits on the base of the pan. Add the Worcestershire sauce and bring to the boil so the wine is slightly reduced.
Pour the gravy over the beef and add the beef stock, seasoning, and bay leaf. Melt the butter in a separate pan and fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Set aside. Cook the casserole in a preheated oven, gas 2/150C/300F for 2 hours.
Stir the mixture after this time to make sure it’s not drying out. Add the mushrooms and return to the oven for a further 35 minutes. Allow it to cool completely.
Make the pastry as for chicken, ham and leek pie (above) and roll out the larger piece for the base of a 23 cm pie dish. Add the cooled filling and roll out the lid. Seal as before, then increase the oven temperature to gas 7/220C/425F and bake for 30 minutes. This is nice with some mashed potatoes.
One-Crust Apple and Blackberry Pie
This easy-to-make pie originated in America. It looks attractive because you can see the fruit inside. You can use any kind of fruit for this pie, but I’ve used apples and blackberries, which are in season here at the moment. Serves 6.
700g of prepared fruit (400g of apples and 300g of blackberries)
75g caster sugar
2 tablespoons fine semolina
1 egg yolk
175g plain flour, sifted
80g softened butter
A pinch of salt
First, make the pastry. Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add some water and stir with a palette knife. Gather the dough up in your hands and knead gently to form a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Lightly oil a baking sheet then roll out the pastry to a rough circle, about 35 cm round. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be exact and the edges can be uneven. It adds to the appeal of the pie. Carefully lift the pastry onto the rolling pin and transfer it to the baking sheet. Brush with the egg yolk and sprinkle over the semolina. The egg yolk acts as a waterproof seal and the semolina will absorb excess fruit juice.
Pile the fruit into the middle of the pastry circle, sprinkle over the sugar and bring up the edges of the pastry to almost enclose the fruit, leaving a gap in the top. Brush all over with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven, gas mark 6/200C/400F for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden and the fruit is cooked. Serve warm with ice cream or pouring cream.
*Other combinations that work well are rhubarb and orange, gooseberry and elderflower, cherry and plum, and apricot and almond.
Easy Puff Pastry Recipes
Puff pastry is more complicated to make than shortcrust, but if you make the effort you will be rewarded with light-as-air, flaky, buttery pastry that just melts in your mouth. As with shortcrust pastry, puff pastry can be used in sweet or savoury recipes.
A favourite snack here in Britain, herby sausagemeat is wrapped in puff pastry and baked. These bite-sized pastries are very moreish so you might want to make extra. They’re best made with good quality butcher’s sausages. Makes about 24.
8 herby sausages
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Plain flour for dusting
225g plain flour
Half a teaspoon of salt
140g softened butter, diced
150 ml iced water
First of all, make the puff pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl then place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes. This helps the pastry to form better layers. Use a palette knife to stir the butter into the flour, making sure every piece is coated in the flour. Pour in the water and stir everything together quickly to form a rough dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board or work surface and flatten it out into a sausage shape. Wrap it in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.
Roll out the pastry to an oblong that’s 3 times longer than it is wide. Use your hands to pat the edges of the pastry and keep it as straight as possible.
Lift the bottom edge of the pastry and fold a third of it up towards the middle. Bring the top third down to meet the bottom edge. Press the dough down firmly with the rolling pin, keeping the corners as square as you can. The size isn’t too important.
Now turn the dough so that its open edge is facing to the right, like the pages of a book. Press down on the edges again to ensure they’re sealed.
Now re-roll the pastry and repeat the folding and pressing down of the edges. Repeat this process 4 times altogether, so that you have a smooth dough with visible buttery streaks in it. This process is known as ‘laminating.’ Chill overnight in the fridge before you use it.
To make the sausage rolls, roll out the pastry on a floured board or work surface until it’s an oblong shape and about 2 mm thick. Cut the pastry into 3 strips lengthways and remove the skins from the sausages. The easiest way to do this is to run a sharp knife down each and peel off the skins.
Mix the sausagemeat in a bowl and season it with salt and pepper, then divide it into 3 equal portions. You can weigh them if you like, guessing can be tricky. Roll each piece of sausagemeat into 3 long ‘sausages’ and place each one onto a strip of pastry.
Brush one edge of the pastry strips with beaten egg and fold over, pressing firmly to seal. Use the prongs of a fork to press down and make lines in the edges. This creates a tighter seal. Cut each length into portions about 5 cm long and place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment. Brush with beaten egg and cut 3 holes in the top of each ‘roll’ to allow steam to escape. Repeat this process with the other ‘rolls.’
Preheat the oven to gas 7/220C/425F and bake the sausage rolls for 20 – 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. Nice served warm with some chutney on the side.
These are ultra-thin discs of puff pastry with a delicious savoury or sweet topping. They make a great starter or light lunch and you can vary the toppings according to what you fancy. Makes 6.
Half the quantity of puff pastry (see recipe above)
Tomato and Goat Cheese:
12 ripe, red tomatoes
200g firm goat cheese
18 large basil leaves, plus extra to garnish
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Feta, Spinach and Pine Nuts:
125g feta cheese, chopped into small cubes
225g baby leaf spinach
25g pine nuts
A grating of nutmeg
25g Parmesan, finely grated
For the tomato and cheese galettes: put the tomatoes into a bowl and pour on enough boiling water to cover them. Leave for 5 minutes. Drain off the water and replace it with cold water. After a couple of minutes, the skins should slip off easily.
Roll out the pastry on a floured board or work surface until it’s no more than 3 mm thick. Cut out 6 circles with a 15 cm pastry cutter, or use a saucer and cut around it. Put the discs onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper.
Put 3 basil leaves onto each pastry disc and top with the sliced tomatoes. Crumble over the goat cheese and drizzle with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven, gas 7/220C/425F for 10 – 12 minutes, until the pastry is golden and puffed up at the edges. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil.
For the feta and spinach galettes: Cook the spinach in a pan for 2 – 3 minutes. It will collapse down and halve in volume. Squeeze out as much water as you can (spinach holds a lot of water) and finely chop it. Place some spinach onto each pastry disc and grate over a little fresh nutmeg. Scatter over the feta and pine nuts and bake as for the tomato and goat cheese galettes above.
This pastry-based dessert originated in France and is made from fruit – usually apples – caramelised in butter and sugar, before being covered with puff pastry and baked. I have made this tart with plums as a nice change from the usual apples. Serves 8 – 10.
1 quantity of puff pastry (see recipe above)
100g caster sugar
1 punnet of red plums
Plain flour for dusting
Zest of half a lemon
Melt the butter and sugar together in a heavy-based, non-stick pan that can go into the oven. Allow the butter to melt completely and the sugar to dissolve, then turn up the heat and boil until the caramel is dark brown in colour, swirling the pan now and then. This should take 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Cut the plums in half through their middles and use the knife to lift out the stone. Lay the plums, cut side facing upwards, in the hot caramel. Keep them close together as you arrange them. You might not need to use them all. Be careful that the caramel doesn’t spit, or you could end up with a nasty burn.
Return the pan to the heat and cook for 5 minutes, spooning the caramel over the plums until they’ve softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Roll out the pastry as above, making a rough circle that will cover the pan. Grate the lemon zest over the plums then cover them with the pastry, tucking in the edges so it’s nice and snug.
Bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 25 – 30 minutes, until the pastry has risen and is a lovely golden brown colour.
Remove the tarte from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then put a large plate over the pan and flip it over, holding the plate firmly in place. Shake the pan and the tarte should come out onto the plate. There will be a lot of juice but it’s so good you will want as much as you can get!
Serve the tarte tatin warm with lashings of cream or vanilla ice cream.
Recipes Using Puff Pastry Sheets
This article is about homemade pastry, but I thought that I would add a couple of recipes made with the ready-rolled puff pastry sheets that are so convenient. I use them all the time and there is nothing wrong with a bit of cheating now and then!
This savoury tart originated in France and is a mixture of bacon and onions topped with creme fraiche. It can be prepared in advance and baked when you’re ready to eat it. Serves 4.
1 tablespoon olive oil
150g diced smoked bacon (lardons)
250g of sliced red onions
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
375g ready-rolled puff pastry
250g full-fat creme fraiche
1 teaspoon of fresh chopped thyme or half a teaspoon of dried thyme
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F. Place a large, solid baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the bacon until the fat starts to run out of it. Add the onions to the pan and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Season and add the thyme.
Take another baking sheet the same size as the one in the oven and unroll the pastry onto it. Press the edges to make sure the pastry is lying flat then use a sharp knife to cut a line all around the edge, about 2.5 cm in. (Just cut halfway through the pastry, not all the way through.) This will create a ‘frame’ for the tart. Prick the pastry sheet all over with a fork to stop it from rising too much and pop it into the oven on top of the hot baking tray. This will help to cook the base of the tart and give it a nice crisp finish. Cook for 7 – 8 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Season the creme fraiche with salt and pepper and spread half of it over the base of the tart, inside the risen edges. Spread the onions in an even layer and top with the bacon. Dollop the remaining creme fraiche over the top and return it to the oven for a further 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is hot and bubbling.
All this needs is a simple salad to go with it, dressed with a sharp vinaigrette dressing.
The tart can also be cut into small squares or triangles and served with drinks as an appetizer.
Mediterranean Vegetable Tart
This is so easy to make and tastes wonderful. Using ready-rolled pastry makes this quick and simple to prepare. Serves 4.
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 courgette, finely sliced
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons of ricotta cheese
Zest of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil to garnish
Unroll the pastry sheet and put it on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper. Use a sharp knife to score a border 2 cm in from the edge. Bake the pastry in a preheated oven, gas 7/220C/425F for 20 minutes. The edges will have risen slightly.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion, courgette and peppers for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Pile the vegetables into the tart case and sprinkle over the lemon zest and basil leaves. Dot the ricotta over the top and flash under a hot grill for 2 – 3 minutes until the ricotta has melted slightly. Serve cut into squares with a salad.
These are sweet versions of the galettes mentioned above. You can use any fruit you like but I’ve chosen 2 variations that are particularly good. Makes 6.
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
Apricot and Amaretto:
27 dried apricots
6 tablespoons of amaretto liqueur
6 heaped teaspoons of demerara sugar
Cut the apricots in half and arrange 9 halves on each pastry disc. Pour over the amaretto and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake in a preheated oven, gas 7/220C/425F for 10 – 12 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up.
3 unripe pears, peeled and cored
275 ml red wine
25g caster sugar
Half a cinnamon stick
Half a vanilla pod
1 teaspoon arrowroot
Put the pears into a pan with the wine and sugar. Add the cinnamon stick and halved vanilla pod, place a lid on the pan and heat gently for 45 minutes. Turn the pears over halfway through so that they are evenly coloured by the red wine.
Unroll the pastry onto a board and cut out 6 discs with a 15 cm pastry cutter or a saucer. Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper.
Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the poaching liquid and put the pan over a high heat, boiling the liquid until it’s reduced by half. Add the arrowroot to a cup with a little cold water and mix to a smooth paste, then whisk it into the poaching liquid, which will thicken up.
Assemble the galettes by thinly slicing the pears and arranging them in a circle over the galette. Bake in a preheated oven, gas 7/220C/425F for 10 – 12 minutes. Spoon over the poaching liquid before serving.
Best Choux Pastry Recipe
In my humble opinion, the best thing to make with choux pastry is profiteroles. Don’t worry if you don’t have any piping skills; profiteroles are better just dropped onto the tray with a teaspoon. Makes about 18.
150 ml cold water
50g butter, diced
60g of strong plain flour
1 teaspoon of caster sugar
2 medium eggs, well beaten
Put the water and butter into a medium-sized pan and leave to one side. Sift the flour with the sugar and tip it onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. This makes it easier to add the flour to the pan all in one go. Heat the water and butter over a moderate heat until boiling, then tip in all of the flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste.
Now add the eggs a little at a time and beat well between each addition. You should end up with a golden, glossy paste.
300 ml double cream
1 tablespoon caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla extract
225g dark chocolate, 72% cocoa solids
3 tablespoons of water
Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Put teaspoonfuls of the choux on the baking sheet – leave a space between each mound – and bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to gas 7/220C/425F and bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes, until the buns are crisp and a rich golden brown in colour. Pierce the base of each one to allow steam to escape then cool on a wire rack.
Now make the chocolate sauce. Put the broken-up chocolate and the water into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Allow to melt and stir. You should have a smooth, shiny mixture with the consistency of double cream.
Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until quite stiff. Cut each profiterole in half horizontally and fill each one with a spoonful of the cream. Stick the 2 halves back together and arrange them on a serving plate as you go.
Pour the chocolate sauce into a jug and take it to the table with the profiteroles, pouring it over them just before serving.
*Note – don’t fill the profiteroles too far in advance as the choux pastry will go soggy.
This is a ring of choux pastry, flavoured with Gruyere cheese and baked until light and crisp. The recipe for the choux pastry is the same as for profiteroles, but omit the sugar and add salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg instead. Serves 2.
1 quantity choux pastry
60g Swiss Gruyere, finely grated
Half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
A grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Make the choux pastry and add 50g of the Gruyere, the mustard and seasoning straight after adding the eggs. Beat thoroughly. Place dessertspoons of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper so that they touch the next one. You should have a circle of dough about 18 cm in size.
Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle over the remaining 10g of Gruyere and bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 10 minutes. Then increase the oven temperature to gas 7/220C/425F and bake for a further 20 – 25 minutes.
Serve straight from the oven. This makes a nice lunch served with a salad.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Choux Puffs
These are like a bigger version of profiteroles, light and crisp and filled and topped with a creamy chocolate mousse, finished with chopped hazelnuts. The flavours of chocolate and hazelnuts go very well together (think Nutella!) Makes 8 or 9.
1 quantity of sweet choux pastry
175g dark chocolate, 72% cocoa solids
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons chopped toasted hazelnuts
First of all, make the chocolate mousse filling. This should be done several hours before you want to eat the choux buns. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes then stir in the egg yolks. Cool completely.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl to the soft peak stage and stir a tablespoon of egg white into the chocolate. Then use a large metal spoon to gently fold in the rest of the egg whites. Cover the bowl and chill for 3 – 4 hours.
Place dessertspoons of choux onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, leaving a between each one, and bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to gas 7/220C/425F and cook for a further 20 – 25 minutes, until the choux is golden brown and puffed up. Pierce the base of each one and cool on a wire rack.
Slice the buns in half horizontally and fill with the chocolate mousse, pressing the 2 halves back together. Use a palette knife to spread some mousse over the top of each bun and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts. Serve with a nice cup of tea.
Recipes Using Filo Pastry
Filo pastry is ultra-thin and light and is considered to be the healthiest of all pastries. It makes a nice change from puff or shortcrust pastry. Just remember to keep the filo pastry covered so that it doesn’t dry out. I’m using ready-made filo here as making your own is a tricky process!
Curried Chicken Pie
This unusual pie is filled with chicken and broccoli in a creamy curry sauce. The filo topping gives it a nice crunch. Serves 4.
1 tablespoon groundnut or sunflower oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
250g broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tablespoon medium curry powder
460g chicken breast fillets, diced
40g plain flour
300 ml full-fat milk
100 ml double cream
Salt and pepper
4 sheets of filo pastry
15g butter, melted
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the onion for 10 minutes, until softened and turning pale golden brown. Add the chicken and cook for 8 – 10 minutes, turning the chicken pieces, until browned all over. Add the garlic and curry powder, season and fry for 2 minutes.
In a separate pan, heat the butter until melted and add the flour. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then mix the milk and cream together and add a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the milk is used up. Grate in some nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and remove the sauce from the heat. Add the broccoli to the chicken mixture and pour over the white sauce.
Transfer the mixture to a pie dish and lay a sheet of filo pastry on a board. Brush with the melted butter and place it on top of the chicken and broccoli, scrunching it up slightly. Repeat with the rest of the pastry sheets and brush over any remaining butter.
Bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 20 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Serve with some vegetables, such as carrots and green beans.
Feta and Vegetable Pie
This delicious combination of feta cheese and vegetables is encased in crunchy filo pastry and is surprisingly easy to make. Serve with a simple salad. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 sheets of filo pastry
500g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
20g fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
50g pine nuts
150g feta, crumbled
3 medium eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper
Brush a 20 cm loose-based cake tin with some of the oil and put 3 sheets of filo in the base, overlapping and coming halfway up the sides of the tin.
Squeeze all of the excess water out of the spinach and put it into a large bowl with the carrots, parsley, mixed herbs, feta and pine nuts. Add the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Spoon it into the prepared tin and bring the edges of the filo pastry up and over, partly enclosing the filling. Top with the remaining sheets of filo, scrunching them up slightly and using the rest of the oil to brush over the top.
Bake in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 35 – 40 minutes, until the filling is cooked and the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot, cut into wedges.
This is a very sweet concoction, made from filo pastry, honey and nuts. It’s thought to have come from Greece but records show that it originated in Persia, in the 13th century. You need a sweet tooth for this! Makes 24 squares.
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Half a teaspoon of ground mixed spice
12 sheets of filo pastry
Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a pan with 300 ml of water and heat gently. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, by which time the syrup should be reduced to half its original volume. Allow to cool completely.
Chop the nuts in a food processor or put them in a strong plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin. Not too finely, you want some texture. Tip into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon and mixed spice.
Melt the butter and grease a 40 x 25 cm shallow tin. Lay the sheets of filo in the tin, brushing with melted butter as you go, until you have 4 layers of pastry. Scatter over half the spiced nut mixture and cover with 4 more layers of filo, brushing with melted butter as before. Add the rest of the nuts and 4 more layers of filo and drizzle the last of the butter over the top.
Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamond shapes, making sure the knife goes all the way through to the bottom.
Bake in a preheated oven, gas 4/180C/350F for 30 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. If the baklava looks like it’s getting too brown, reduce the oven temperature to gas 3/170C/325F. Remove from the oven.
Spoon half of the cooled syrup over the baklava. Allow it to soak in for 5 minutes, then spoon over the rest of the syrup. Serve cold with coffee.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about making pastry. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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