Sweet science: Standards set for Turkish baklava

Turkey has for the first time introduced a set of criteria for baklava, the sweet pastry made in the country’s southeast and known across the world, the standards watchdog said Thursday.

The move is aimed at standardising the production of the trademark dessert, which is often manufactured with counterfeit ingredients to cut costs, Turkish Standards Institute (TSE) said in a statement.

The pastry “should have its trademark golden yellow colour, its syrup should not be too thick, it shouldn’t cause a sensation of burning in the throat and it should dissolve in the mouth without the need for chewing.”

Baklava should be made of flour, salt, water, a tiny amount of fat and white sugar, and pistachio and each piece must be a minimum of 35 millimetres in size, TSE said.

The statement noted that unscrupulous producers have in recent years been cheating their customers by using alternative ingredients, with some using peas instead of pistachios or corn syrup instead of white sugar.

The intensely sweet pastry is the subject of a long-running dispute, with Turkey steadfastly claiming it as its own, as does Greece and half the Middle East.

The origin of the word “baklava” is also disputed, but TSE said that it is of Turkish origin and called “baklagu,” or “baklagi” in the old Turkish.

The Gaziantep baklava, described as a “pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with semolina cream and Antep pistachio,” won the EUs prized “protected status,” becoming the first Turkish product to receive the coveted status. [AFP]