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A plate of baklava
Photograph: Jess Hand

Hype Dish: Zahter’s pistachio baklava is syrupy-sweet deliciousness

Esra Muslu takes us on the journey to creating the perfect baklava

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

‘When it’s pistachio season in Turkey, they’re sold in bazaars everywhere and we’d eat fresh ones straight from the trees,’ says Esra Muslu, founder of Turkish restaurant Zahter, just off Carnaby Street. Muslu learned to cook by helping her grandma in the kitchen. ‘Her baklava was made with walnuts and she’d cut it into turtle shapes,’ Muslu says. ‘People love the pistachio version so much: they always order a second portion. That makes me so happy.’ 

The texture

‘We cut the baklava into pieces before cooking. The top is crunchy, buttery and nutty, but the bottom becomes sweet and juicy thanks to the syrup.’

The cream

‘We put clotted cream on top to cut through the sugar and add richness. It helps to balance the flavours – I can’t eat anything that sweet without some.’

The nuts 

‘Pistachio dust goes in the middle for a nutty creaminess, as well as whole ones for texture. We buy ours from Turkey: if you don’t use good ones, you won’t get the flavour.’

The syrup 

‘We make a syrup using a simple one-to-one ratio of sugar and water, adding lemon juice for a nice acidity and smell. It bubbles up really quickly when we pour it on top.’

The pastry

‘We make the dough using double zero flour and roll it with a thin oklava pin into 20 thin layers. Clarified butter goes between each layer before it’s baked in the oven.’

30-32 Foubert’s Place, W1F 7PS. £9.70.

Read more from our Hype Dish series here

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