Lemon Pistachio Baklava Pie

Crispy, buttery pistachio baklava crust filled with the smoothest most lush and lemony filling ever. A pinch of saffron takes this pie over the top and is unlike anything you’ve had before. 

 

A “fusion” dessert 

Before buttermilk became the blog I devoted my baking and recipes to there were a few others. One of those was a blog wherein I posted mostly what I thought of as ‘arabish’ recipes; I’d combine flavors and techniques from east and west  to produce fusion-style dessert dishes. There were orange blossom scones, a vimto cake, and pistachio blueberry donuts. Ultimately, I scrapped the idea in favor of a space where I wasn’t limited by one concept. But often you’ll see recipes here which have that east/west fusion quality (meyer lemon sumac cake, pomegranate meringue pie, pistachio cheesecake) and this pie fits squarely into that category. 

A note on origins: you can learn more about the history of baklava here or here.

After I had made this chocolate hazelnut baklava pie, the idea of doing it again with pistachios whispered to me, incessantly. I had made a variation of this lemon tart and decided to make it again (with some tweaks) and add it here. Saffron? T’was the perfect ingredient to bring this dish to it’s fusion rooted home. 

 

Phyllo Pie Crust, Pistachio Baklava Pie Crust 

The crust part employs the same method as baklava: layering buttered phyllo dough and adding nuts in between some of the phyllo layers. It’s the most hands on part of the recipe as every thin phyllo sheet needs to be brushed with clarified butter. Once you have ten sheets, you’ll spread half the nuts, then layer on another five, then the rest of the nuts and a final 5 sheets of phyllo. Then, it bakes! 

Shaping the crust: You’ll layer 10 phyllo sheets into a 10” springform pan (you can use a 9” too), brushing each sheet with clarified butter or ghee and letting the phyllo hang over the side of the pan this is how the layers look: 

  • 10 sheets, ¾ cup nuts 
  • 5 sheets, ¾ cup nuts 
  • 5 sheets 

Don’t fret if the phyllo is tearing. The beauty of this dish is that it’s always going to look rustic so it doesn’t matter if it tears here and there. 

Once everything is in, crumble the sides so there’s no overhang (if you don’t they’ll bake on top and the crust will break as you take the springform off) but keep them ‘standing’. The crust will puff up in the oven on the bottom and shrink on the sides, this is normal. 

Ghee, clarified butter or melted butter 

I personally used ghee here, so I wouldn’t have to make the clarified butter myself, and if you can’t find ghee you can use melted butter (you’ll likely need more than what’s listed below as there’s lots of milk solids in butter). 

Lemon Curd with Saffron 

I used this recipe from Food & Wine, but adapted it. I reduced the butter a bit, and add zest to intensify the lemon flavor and saffron to add a sweet, subtle dimension. It’s absolutely WONDERFUL. If you love lemon curd, you’ll love this: it’s really tart and texture-wise it is the smoothest lemon curd filling I’ve ever had. I have a lemon curd recipe in these bars, but I kind of think this one is better. It must be all the eggs! 

The way to make it is fairly simple: rub zest and sugar together to release the oils, add all ingredients to the pot and cook until it thickens. The butter goes in last, a technique I read about a few months ago, incorporating it slowly contributes to that smooth, buttery texture. 

FAQ 

Four eggs AND four yolks? Are you serious?

Yes! The eggs and yolks in the filling not only help it ‘set’ but are also what make the filling so smooth and luscious. 

What do I do with the leftover four egg whites? 

This double vanilla white cake recipe uses four whites, so do these oreo meringues. Alternatively, you can quadruple this double chocolate chip cookie recipe (it’s a small batch recipe and you can freeze whatever dough you don’t want to bake right away). 

 

Saffron Lemon Pistachio Baklava Pie 

Makes: one 10” pie. 

Ingredients 

Pistachio Baklava Crust 

  • 20 phyllo sheets 
  • 8 oz ghee (clarified butter), or melted butter 
  • 1 ½ cups pistachios, toasted and finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Saffron Lemon Filling, 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon zest 
  • 4 large eggs, plus 4 egg yolks 
  • 1 cup lemon juice 
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • Small pinch of saffron threads 
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons 

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Have a damp cloth overlaying the phyllo dough and make sure the ghee is melted so it’s easier to work with. Combine the chopped nuts with the sugar. 
  2. Lay the first sheet of phyllo on the pan so that it covers the bottom and overhangs over the side. Brush it with ghee then place another sheet of phyllo over the first layer, but have it overhang next to the first layer (we’re trying to cover all the edges). Keep going until you have 10 sheets, then spread half the nut mixture over it. Now layer and butter 5 more layers of phyllo, then spread the rest of the nut mixture. Layer a last five phyllo sheets, each buttered on top. Crumple the edges of the phyllo down so that none overhang but you still have tall sides. 
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  4. Ready a large, heatproof bowl and a sieve. 
  5. Pour the sugar and zest into a pot and rub the zest into the sugar until it’s wet and releases its oils. Add the eggs, egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and saffron and cook until the mixture thickens and covers the back of a spatula, about 7-10 minutes. 
  6. Pour the filling through the sieve into the bowl, stirring and scraping to get all the liquid out, minus the zest and bits. Add the butter and whisk until it’s all melted and incorporated. If you like, you can add another pinch of saffron threads to deepen the taste. 
  7. Pour the filling into the shell, and set it in the fridge for 4 hours at least, preferably overnight to chill. 
  8. Store in the fridge, uncovered is fine. The lemon curd gets more tart with time. 


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