Greg’s cigar baklava

Greg’s cigar baklava

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

Every country in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean does its own thing with baklava, small, nutty pastries drenched in a lightly perfumed sugar syrup. Some versions favour ground pistachios as a filling, others prefer ground almonds or walnuts. Sometimes a touch of cinnamon is included with the nuts, or honey is added to the syrup. These cigar baklava are one of our favourite varieties.


Quantity Ingredient
100g walnuts
100g whole blanched almonds
100g unsalted pistachio kernels
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
8 sheets filo pastry
clarified butter
2 tablespoons finely ground unsalted pistachio kernels, to garnish

Orange-flower syrup

Quantity Ingredient
500g caster sugar
350ml water
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, split
2 teaspoons orange-flower water


  1. Tip the nuts and spices into a food processor and pulse until quite finely ground. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and lightly grease a large baking tray.
  2. Stack four sheets of filo pastry on a work surface, brushing each liberally with clarified butter as you go. Cover the other four sheets with a damp tea towel until needed. Cut each stack crosswise into eight strips and brush with more butter. Sprinkle a line of nut mixture along the length of each strip. Place a metal skewer along the edge and roll the pastry around it tightly. Push the ends together to create a crimped effect. Carefully pull out the skewer and place the cigar on a heavy-based baking tray. Repeat with the remaining filo strips to fill the tray — you should make a total of 16 cigars. Repeat with the other four filo sheets so you have 32 cigars. Brush with more butter and bake for about 30 minutes.
  3. To make the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water in a small, heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, swirling the pan from time to time. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Increase the oven temperature to 175ºC and cook the cigars for a further 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the orange-flower water to the syrup and increase the heat until it is vigorously bubbling. Remove the tray from the oven and place over a medium flame on the stovetop. Heat for 10 seconds then pour the boiling syrup over the cigars until they are drenched.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature (do not refrigerate). When ready to serve, trim the ends with a serrated knife, cut the cigars in half and sprinkle with ground pistachios.
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