I truly love the Turkish börek. I really do. In fact, I don’t know any Turkish person who doesn’t.
Börek is a layered pastry made with fresh pastry dough and filled with different varieties of cheese, herbs and spices, vegetables, or meat.
What’s not to love? First, it is so versatile – you can have börek (boer-eck) for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as most people do in Turkey you can also have it as a part of the five o’clock teatime. Second, you can use whatever you have at home as the filling, and it will be delicious every single time.
Yufka (yoof-kah), the fresh dough used to make the layers of börek, is traditionally made from scratch. I’ve made the dough from scratch once, and oh boy, was it hard. Instead, like many other home cooks, I prefer buying them fresh from the yufka shop. You must be thinking “where in the world would I find Turkish fresh yufka”, but not to worry, you can substitute it with the greek phyllo dough sold in most supermarkets (in the freezer aisle). I am going to be honest with you – it will not be exactly as the Turkish yufka, but it will be close and very delicious nevertheless. Or – you may wait for me to post my home made yufka recipe and try your hand in making the real thing!
As filling, you may use many different types of ingredients such as minced meat and spices, spinach and cheese, lentil, leeks etc. Basically you can use what you have at home. My favorites are cheese and parsley or potato with scallions and fresh herbs.
Two weeks ago, I was craving börek so much that even though I try to make it only when I have company (otherwise I will eat the whole pie by myself), I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I gave in. I took the yufka I brought from Turkey from the freezer, and started anticipating the first bite of warm börek that second. I had feta cheese and parsley at home and I decided to use them. It was absolutely delicious and I brought them to work the next day and it was a hit. I am sharing my recipe if you’d like to give it a try:
- 4 sheets of yufka or 1 package phyllo dough
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups whole or 2% milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or sunflower etc)
- 1 lb Turkish white cheese or feta cheese, rinsed
- 1 bunch Italian (flat) parsley, washed and finely chopped
Butter for the baking pan
Black or regular sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
- Butter the bottom and edges of the baking pan. With only four yufkas, you can use a medium – large size rectangular or round baking pan.
- In a bowl, crumble the cheese with a fork and mix with chopped parsley. I love a lot of parsley in my borek, but if you are not a big fan, you can decrease the amount.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs together and mix in the milk and oil.
- Place the first yufka sheet on the buttered baking pan (if you are using phyllo dough, take a few at a time, they are much thinner). With a small ladle, put some egg mixture and spread it evenly. Then put the ⅓ of the cheese mixture on top of it and put a second layer of yufka, repeat the first step until you finish the ingredients, then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Make sure the egg mixture is completely spread over on the top as well. If you break the yufka when layering it, don’t worry – it doesn’t need to be perfect, just patch them together to cover the cheese mixture.
- Bake it in 225F oven for 20 minutes and increase 275F for another 20 minutes. Check to see if the bottom gets a darker color, it should be dark but not burnt.
Once done, take it out of the oven and cover with paper towel for another 20 minutes. Then slice it and enjoy!