Börek, burek, boreka….no matter how you say it, this savoury pastry is everything that you are looking for. It’s salty, flaky, crunchy and smooth all at the same time and is slightly on the unusual side for most Canadians (and North Americans alike), which makes this recipe even more intriguing. Made with a few simple ingredients, but combined in a special way, this recipe is sure to captivate and satisfy you, your friends and family.
Before I get into explaining how to make börek, you probably want to know what it is first. Börek is a traditional Turkish pastry that is made by layering sheets of yufka dough and wrapping the sheets around a cheese and spinach, egg, or meat-based filling. If you haven’t heard of yufka dough before, don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was until I began researching börek. Yufka dough comes in large round sheets (when I say large, I mean they’re large- as in the size of a truck tire) and is very similar to phyllo dough as is very thin and becomes super flaky once baked. While there are a few bakeries around here that make yufka from scratch, it is not readily available to buy from the bakeries or grocery stores since it is so delicate. In this instance, you can easily substitute the yufka for traditional Greek phyllo dough as I have done in this recipe.
There are also many versions of börek that are made depending on the background and style of the cook that makes them. There a traditional spiral version where the filling is rolled up in the dough and is coiled around itself, a pie-like version where the filling is placed in a pie pan and covered with dough, and a lasagna-style version where the dough and filling are layered. While all versions taste wonderful, I really like the spiral börek since they can be made for individual serving sizes and cook up much quicker than other versions. With a recipe this good, you’ll want these to be ready as soon as possible!
With that said, let’s now get into how to assemble the spiral-style börek. As I mentioned above, I substitute yufka dough for phyllo dough since it is more readily available and convenient for me. I lay one sheet on my work surface and brush the sheet with an egg mixture. This egg mixture contains eggs, milk, butter and olive oil. Super low calorie…not! I like to combine all four of these ingredients together not only to help the dough stick together and give it incredible flavor, but also to promote the pastry from getting beautifully golden brown when baked. Once I brush the egg filling on the first sheet, I lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top and brush it again with the egg mixture.
Next, I lay the filling (I made both cheese and spinach and meat versions here) in a straight line across the long edge of the phyllo. I don’t add too much, only about 3-4 tablespoons of filling from edge to edge. Then, I simply fold the phyllo dough over the filling and continue to roll the pastry up in the dough until I have a long snake of dough with the filling wrapped up in the middle. Then I simply coil the dough around itself from the center out, tuck in any extra phyllo ends, and brush the whole spiral with the egg mixture.
Once all are assembled, bake on an oiled baking sheet or in a cast iron pan for 20 minutes. Once fully baked, you will have a wonderful flaky pastry that tastes wonderful fresh from the oven!
When you slice open the börek, you will see the lovely filling wrapped around the dough- almost like little tubes of filling. If you ask me, these börek are hypnotizing-ly good! I like to serve these on their own if they are for breakfast, or with a side salad for brunch or a fancy lunch.
Let me know if you will be cooking up some börek in your kitchen any time soon! And if you try it, let me know how they turned out (and how fast they disappeared) in the comments below 🙂
For the full recipe, click here!