Traditional Turkish Borek
Börek is found all over Turkey, and, in fact, many places that the Ottoman Empire used to be. Each place within or outside of Turkey puts their own twist on it, but basically its a 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.
Turkish börek is made out of a very thin dough 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 will work as well.
Some kitchen essentials and optionals for making Borek include:
I had my good friend and master Turkish cook show me her way of making börek. We made two different fillings and used two different layering methods.
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 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)
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 is 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 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.
The fold-over method is a bit easier.
1.Lay one sheet of yufka over the pan with the edges over lapping.
2.Spoon in filling. You will make three to four layers, so portion the filling appropriately.
3.Fold over the yufka, keeping it as flat as possible.
4.Alternate layers of dough with the filling.
5.For each layer of dough, spoon some egg mixture in between to keep the dough moist, especially where yufka touches yufka.
6.Repeat until the dish or pan is full. 7.Spoon the remaining egg mixture on top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
To finish: With both methods, 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.
So that is the traditional Turkish way of cooking börek .
Have you ever had börek? What was your favorite kind?
Many bakeries open early in the morning to sell bread and börek, so you can find a quick, delicious breakfast. Please let me know if you try out this recipe. What did you think?
- 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.