Table of Contents
- Traditional Turkish Börek
- The Fillings in our Turkish Börek Recipe
- Egg Mixture
- Turkish Börek Layering Techniques
- Finishing the Turkish Börek
- Turkish Börek - Three Variations
Traditional Turkish Börek
Börek is found all over Turkey, and, in fact, many places that the Ottoman Empire used to be, which we were surprised to find out in our trips to Croatia, Hungary, Albania, and even Bulgaria. Each place within or outside of Turkey puts their own twist on it, but basically its a flaky dough-filled pastry. Most often the pastry filling is savory and will usually be cheese, ground beef, or spinach. Sometimes you can find potato or other vegetables or even sausage fillings. Borek is one of those versatile dishes that can be eaten at any time of day and anywhere. Many bakeries, all over the world, will have it ready for breakfast! It really doesn’t matter which kind of Turkish börek you try, what time of day you eat it, or where you get it from; they’re all delicious, so that’s one reason we took a cooking lesson from our good friend Füsun and included her Turkish Borek recipe here. Take it from me, it’s çok güzel! (Totally delicious!)
You can’t make traditional borek without using the thin pastry called yufka. It used to be that you had to go to the yufka-maker’s to buy the dough, unless he had a stall at your local market, but nowadays there is plenty of plastic-wrapped yufka available in the supermarkets. As you might expect, supermarket yufka is not as desirable, because it often feels stale and hard. Many international supermarkets will sell yufka, but if you can’t find it, phyllo dough can be found frozen in most grocery stores and will work just as well.
Some kitchen essentials and optionals for making Turkish Börek include:
There are many types of börek, with many kinds of fillings. It doesn’t really matter what you put inside, it’s all tasty. The way the börek is layered or built with the layers of yufka determines what it’s called. We used two different styles of börek, one a spiral method that looks like a rose called gül, and then a regular layered one, called saray börek, which of course is more commonly made in the home since it takes much less time.
Here are the main steps in making borek.
Step 1: Make sure your yufka is kept moist, so take it out of the packaging and keep it between two damp dish towels.
Step 2: Make the fillings for your borek.
Step 3: Cut your yufka, and separate the layers. Decide which shape or layering technique to use. Make sure to brush each layer with generous amounts of melted butter.
Step 4: Cook your borek. Most, like ours is baked, but some called sigara börek, are rolled and deep fried providing a completely different flavor.
Step 5: Serve, make sure to have a glass of Turkish çay (tea) ready!
The Fillings in our Turkish Börek Recipe
Kiyma or Ground Meat
In a skillet, heat oil and add the following ingredients. Cook for three minutes and turn off to cool.
4 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (preferably sunflower oil)
1 onion (diced)
1/2 pound (250 grams) of ground beef (break up when cooking)
½ cup of finely chopped fresh parsley 1 ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper
Ispanak or Spinach (my favorite for pan Turkish börek)
In a medium pot, combine the following ingredients, wilt spinach. Stir and reduce until no water is left. Set aside and let cool.
Spinach (cleaned, spun, and drained)
1 onion (diced)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
For both types of borek, you need to make the egg mixture which allows the dough to stay soft and helps make it a golden brown when baked.
Whisk together the following ingredients:
2 eggs 3 Tablespoons sunflower oil
¾ cup milk (best for the meat filling ) or 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt (best for the spinach filling)
Turkish Börek Layering Techniques
There are two ways to layer the yufka for börek. One way is the swirl method, and the other is the fold-over method. It’s important that you try both to determine what your preference is. My preference is the fold-over method, because I feel the ration of filling to dough tastes better to me.
For both methods, you will need three sheets of yufka. If bought fresh, one kilo of yufka is about six sheets.
The Spiral Method (the Rose)
It’s just what it sounds like. You lay the yufka out on the table. Spread some of the egg mixture over the dough. Lay a long line of the filling of choice , starting about one-fourth of the way from the top edge. Then roll into a snake shape. Take the börek snake and wrap it in a coil to lay in your round pan. Spoon the leftover egg mixture on top and bake in a 350 degree (180 degrees Centigrade) oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
The Fold-over Method (Common Layering Technique)
This method is a bit easier than the spiral method, and it doesn’t matter which you choose. Lay one sheet of yufka over the pan with the edges over lapping. Spoon in filling. You will make three to four layers, so portion the filling appropriately. Fold over the yufka, keeping it as flat as possible. Alternate layers of dough with the filling. For each layer of dough, spoon some egg mixture in between to keep the dough moist, especially where yufka touches yufka. Repeat until the dish or pan is full. Spoon the remaining egg mixture on top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Finishing the Turkish Börek
With both methods, sprinkle a few drops of water on the börek, place a damp towel over the pan and let cool for 20 minutes. Cut and serve. I like my börek hot, but the cheese and other veggie varieties taste really good cold as well. That makes it a great dish to take to work or on the road with you.
This Turkish Börek recipe might seem a bit intimidating, but it really isn’t too bad. Don’t worry about the look of the folds or spiral. When it’s all baked, it always comes out looking wonderful. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking of it.
Have you ever had börek? What was your favorite kind? After we moved away from Turkey, we wanted to keep making our borek, so we came up with our own recipe. We call it Borek with an American twist. Please let me know if you try out this recipe. For many more Turkish food recipes as well as recipes from other countries we’ve traveled to, visit our Food/Recipes Page.
Pin our How to Make Turkish Börek recipe for later! If you make the recipe you can pull up the pin and leave a comment or a photo to show us how it turned out!
- 500g of yufka (or phyllo if yufka is unavailable)
- 2 lbs fresh spinach (washed, spun, and drained)
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt
- In a medium pot, combine the spinach, onion, salt, paprika, and pepper'
- Wilt the spinach over medium heat.
- Stir and reduce until no water is left.
- Set aside and let cool.
- Whisk the eggs, oil, and yogurt until smooth.
- Lay the yufka out on the table.
- Spread some of the egg mixture over the dough.
- Lay a long line of the filling of choice, starting about one-fourth of the way from the top edge.
- Then roll into a snake shape.
- Take the borek snake and wrap it in a coil to lay in your round pan.
- Spoon the leftover egg mixture on top and bake in a 350 degree (180 degrees Centigrade) oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Sprinkle a few drops of water on the borek, place a damp towel over the pan and let cool for 20 minutes.
- Cut and serve.
- Alternate methods, layer the yufka or phyllo in a pan with the filling. One layer of dough, egg mixture, filling, fold over overlapping dough, add another layer of dough, egg mixture, filling, keep repeating until pan is full. Spoon remaining egg mixture over top and bake as with the spiral method.
Recipe Credit: Thanks to a great Turkish friend, Fusun, for giving us this cooking lesson and sharing her traditional Turkish Borek recipe.