Orange baklava cigars

Orange baklava cigars

By
From
New Feast
Makes
8 cigars
Photographer
Alan Benson

These fruity cigars make a welcome change from the traditional nut-stuffed baklava popular all around the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean. For good results, try to find the best-quality, thinnest filo pastry that you can. Some of the supermarket filo is fairly thick, which makes for a less refined result.

The traditional method for making pastry cigars suggests folding the long pastry edges in as you roll them up. We find that with this method you not only end up with a high pastry-to-filling ratio but, more importantly, the fragile filo pastry will often split as they bake. After a bit of experimenting with technique, we’ve found that the best way to extract as much air as possible – and to minimise the splitting – is not to fold the ends in, but to seal them tightly after rolling, leaving a small edge. This is then trimmed neatly after baking. We’ve described the method in some detail below.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 large or 3 medium oranges
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, paste or seeds
3 sheets good-quality filo pastry
100g unsalted butter, clarified, plus extra butter to grease
20g unsalted pistachio nuts, finely ground

Orange syrup

Quantity Ingredient
150g caster sugar
100ml water
6 cardamom pods, roughly crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 strip orange peel, about 5–6 cm long
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
or 1 tablespoon cointreau

Method

  1. To make the orange syrup, combine the sugar, water, cardamom pods, cinnamon and orange peel in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat then add the flower water or Cointreau and set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil then carefully drop in the oranges. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper and weigh down with a small plate to keep the oranges submerged. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour until the oranges are very soft.
  3. Drain the oranges and allow to cool, then slice them thickly and pick out and discard any pips. Transfer the oranges to a food processor and blitz to a very fine puree. Aim to get it as smooth as you possibly can, which will somewhat depend on the sharpness of the blades!
  4. Scrape the orange puree into a clean muslin square (or a tea towel or cheesecloth). Squeeze gently but deliberately to extract as much moisture as you can (it will only be about a tablespoon), then transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the marmalade and vanilla. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with 1 cm nozzle and set aside. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  5. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Butter a small–medium baking sheet or line it with Silpat.
  6. Lay a sheet of filo pastry on your work surface and brush with clarified butter. Top with the remaining filo sheets, brushing each with butter as you go. Use a very sharp knife to cut into 8 rectangles. Pipe a fat line of orange purée along the long edge of each rectangle, leaving at least a centimetre clear at each end so the filling doesn’t squish out when you roll up the cigars. Roll them up carefully – a small spatula or knife can help to get things started – keeping the pastry tucked in as tightly around the filling as you can (without squashing) to expel any pockets of air. Seal the long edge with clarified butter then use the flat blade of a spatula or knife to seal the open short ends very firmly.
  7. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and brush them all over with more butter. Bake for 25 minutes then increase the oven temperature to 160°C and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
  8. Shortly before the end of the baking, fish out the aromatics from the syrup and bring it to the boil. Pour over the cooked pastries and leave them to cool in the tray. Use a sharp knife to trim the ends neatly, but without exposing the filling. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve as a teatime treat or dessert. They are delicious with ice cream, with ashta or with your favourite thick yoghurt or cream.
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