Makes around 20 pieces
Christmas puddings can be expensive to buy, and rather a heavy prospect at the end of a festive meal. A tray of baklava is a suitably sweet and sticky treat, and there’s no pressure to eat it straight after your main course … in fact, a plate of little baklava nibbles might last all through the afternoon.
We can guarantee you will receive compliments on your vegan baking skills when you choose this simple vegan Baklava recipe as an alternative to a traditional Christmas pudding.
For the syrup:
- 250g granulated or caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 150ml water
For the rest:
- 1 pack of vegan filo pastry, defrosted if frozen
- 1 jar of vegan mincemeat (about 320g) (1)
- 50-75ml oil (2)
- A handful of chopped nuts for decoration (optional)
You can use agave syrup to make a vegan baklava, but it’s far cheaper to make your own sugar syrup, and it’s easy if you follow the rules.
- Spread the sugar, and the pinch of salt, evenly across the bottom of a large saucepan. Gently pour the water over the sugar, taking care not to allow any sugar crystals to jump up and stick to the walls of the pan. Make sure the sugar is completely covered by the water. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high heat – Do Not Stir It! Not at all, not ever. It will start to bubble around the edges, and then the whole thing will start to boil – let it do this for 90 seconds, and you should be able to see all the sugar dissolving. Now, cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to low. Cook for 2 more minutes, then turn off the heat and leave it to cool to room temperature. Once this has been achieved, move the pan into the fridge and chill the syrup for an hour or more.
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Prepare a small bowl with your oil and find a pastry brush. Line a baking tray (around 25 x 35cm, and 2cm deep) with baking parchment. Allow the paper to overhang the tray – this will make it easy to lift out the baklava once it has been baked.
- Open the packet of pastry and unfold the filo sheets – now you can see if the sheets fit your prepared tray. If necessary, use scissors to trim the filo sheets to fit – you can cut through several at once. From this point on, work quickly as the filo sheets will dry out fast. You shouldn’t need to bother with draping a damp tea towel over the pastry, though, as this doesn’t take long. And even if the pastry does start to get dry, press on – it will be fine, even if it breaks up a bit.
- Brush the parchment paper on the baking tray with oil, and cover it with a sheet of filo. Brush the pastry with oil (it needn’t be perfect!), and put another sheet of pastry on top. Brush the pastry with oil and add another layer of pastry. Now spoon the mincemeat onto the pastry and gently spread it out. Cover with another layer of filo, brush with oil, add another layer of filo, brush with oil, and add a third layer. Brush with the remaining oil.
- Use a sharp knife to mark the top of the baklava into smallish diamonds – the best way to do this is to make a series of parallel cuts diagonally starting at one corner, then add another series of parallel cuts, straight down from one long edge of the baking tray to the other. Aim to cut down as far as the mincemeat, not the whole way through.
- Bake the baklava for 30 minutes, then move it to a heatproof surface and carefully pour all of the sugar syrup over it. There is no need to rush at this point – the syrup should soak into the baklava. If you like, you can sprinkle some chopped nuts over the baklava – green pistachios look very effective, and you don’t need a lot, but it’s your call. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the baklava onto a cutting board and cut into diamonds to serve.
Any morsels that are left at the end of the day can be kept in the fridge overnight but baklava is generally best served on the day it is made, to keep that moreish combination of crispy and sticky! Spice up your holidays with these mouthwatering sweet treats that last until Boxing Day. A simple yet effective alternative to traditional festive desserts.
(1) Check the ingredients of the mincemeat – not every brand is suitable for vegans, and depending on your dietary preferences, you may prefer to avoid brands that contain nuts or alcohol.
(2) A fairly tasteless, light oil is best here. Don’t be tempted to use melted margarine, as this may contain water that will make your pastry soggy.
Recipe development Jane Hughes
Home economist Jo Brewer
Photographer Chris Leah