SUNDAY TIMES - 'The Great SA Bake Off': Nasreen's baklava cheesecake
Sunday Times Cook By Nasreen Chamda, 2016-11-29 17:50:14.0

'The Great SA Bake Off': Nasreen's baklava cheesecake

Baklava cheesecake surrounded by sugar and cinnamon phyllo pastry roses.
Image: BBC Lifestyle

In the sixth episode of 'The Great South African Bake Off' 2016, Joburg industrial psychologist Nasreen Chamda mashed up two popular desserts to create a towering baklava cheesecake. Try her recipe

Serves: 20

Phyllo pastry:

330ml water

500g flour, sifted

6g salt

30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

5ml (1tsp) apple cider vinegar

125g corn flour, for dusting

Cream cheese filling:

500g cream cheese

500g mascarpone cheese

60ml honey

250g vanilla halva, crumbled

10ml (2 tsp) ground cinnamon

10ml (2 tsp)  ground cardamom

5ml  (1 tsp) vanilla paste

Nut filling:

100g pistachios, finely chopped

100g almonds, finely chopped

100g cashews, finely chopped

60ml honey

10ml (2 tsp) cinnamon

80g butter, melted

120g sugar


225g sugar

60ml (4 tbsp) runny honey

180ml water

10ml (2 tsp) lemon juice

5ml (1 tsp) rose water

5ml (1 tsp) orange blossom water

To assemble:

melted butter, for brushing

180g pistachios, sliced, to garnish

30g dried rose petals, to garnish

Shards of baked phyllo pastry dusted with edible gold lustre, to garnish (optional)


1) For the phyllo pastry, heat the water to 50°C. Place the flour, salt and warm water in bowl and mix until a dough starts to come together. Add the oil and vinegar. Knead the dough well for 3-4 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and divide into 40g pieces; you'll need 20 pieces in total. Dust each piece with corn flour. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

2) Using a rolling pin, roll a piece of dough into a circle with a 20cm diameter. Stretch out the dough and keep dusting it with corn flour as you roll; it should ultimately be 0.5mm thick. Cover with a damp cloth and repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces.

3) To make the cream cheese filling, mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to use.

4) For the nut filling, mix all the ingredients together.

5) To make the syrup, place the sugar, honey, water and lemon juice in a pan. Bring to the boil and boil until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and add the rose water and orange blossom water. Set aside to cool.

6) Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the base of a 20cm round pan with butter.

7) Place a circle of phyllo pastry in the prepared pan. Brush it with melted butter and top with another circle of phyllo pastry. Repeat until you have 4 layers of phyllo pastry in total. Sprinkle a fifth of the nut filling on top and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle the cold syrup over the hot phyllo pastry stack.

8) Repeat the process four times; you'll need 5 baked phyllo pastry stacks in total.

9) To assemble the cheesecake, transfer the cream cheese filling to a piping bag. Place a baked phyllo pastry stack on a serving plate, nut side up. Pipe some of the cream cheese filling over the nuts. Place another baked phyllo pastry stack on top.

10) Repeat the process until you've used up all the baked phyllo pastry stacks.

11) Press the sliced pistachios onto the sides of the cheesecake, reserving some for garnish.

12) Decorate the top layer with the remaining pistachios, dried rose petals and phyllo pastry shards, if using.