You will have filo pastry left over to use for another dish.
40 minutes, plus cooling
35 minutes, plus cooling
1 hour 50 minutes
400g whole shelled almonds
3 tbsp caster sugar
400g pack filo pastry
200g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
350g caster sugar
Finely pared zest of 1 lemon
1½ tbsp lemon juice
2½ cinnamon sticks, roughly broken
If possible, make the syrup the day before and leave in the fridge. Put the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and cinnamon in a small saucepan with 450ml water. Set over a medium heat and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer gently until it forms a thin syrup. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, tip into a bowl, cover and cool, but do not strain. Chill when cold.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3. Liberally butter a 4-cm-deep baking dish of around 30 x 20cm.
Chop the almonds roughly in a food processor, working in small batches of about 100g at a time. Mix with the caster sugar and set aside.
Unwrap the filo pastry and, if necessary, roughly measure and trim the sheets to ensure that they fit your container. They will shrink slightly, so allow an extra 1cm. Brush the first sheet with lots of melted butter and spread over the base of your container. Continue to butter and layer the sheets until you have about five layers, completely covering the base, then scatter them with one third of the almonds. Cover with three more layers of pastry, then sprinkle with half of the remaining almonds before covering with another three layers of pastry. Scatter with the remaining almonds then top with another seven or eight layers of pastry. Liberally brush the top with melted butter.
With a sharp knife, gently cut through the top layers of pastry to mark out about 16 squares, diamonds or rectangles. Do not cut all the way through. This will help when you come to serve.
Put the baklava in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 200°C/gas 6 and bake for 10 minutes. It is ready when it looks golden and cooked through. Meanwhile, remove the lemon zest and cinnamon from the syrup. As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, quickly but evenly pour over the cold syrup. Leave to cool. When cold, cut the pieces along the original lines and serve with strong coffee. This improves and becomes more sticky if served the following day.