Börek? Not really.

Claudia Turgut’s blog, A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, is often an inspiration, and it especially called out to me last week, when I wanted to make a special appetizer to share at Jennifer’s house while we watched the Oscars together. I was considering the luscious looking savory pastry called  börek that Claudia made with various fillings and served at teatime.

But I was not in Istanbul, so how could I possibly make börek?

It wasn’t the filling that was the problem; it was the lack of yufka, that special dough that comes in big round sheets. You can easily buy yufka fresh in Turkey, it seems — but not so here. The closest you can come (unless perhaps you are near a Turkish market) is frozen filo dough, but that is thinner and smaller and rectangular — and just not the same.

The answer? I couldn’t make genuine börek, but I could make my own approximation of it — and as soon as everyone tasted it, no one seemed to care if it was genuine or not.

Claudia’s recipe called for a filling of sauteed onion and parsley, but since I didn’t have parsley, I  added some spinach and crumbled feta cheese to a lot of sauteed onions, and a little salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

The filling

I unwrapped a couple sheets of thawed filo dough, brushed them with a mixture of melted butter and oil. After my first attempt, I decided that two sheets of filo was still too thin, so I added a third sheet, with another light brush of the butter/oil mix. Then I scattered the filling across the sheets of dough.

making borek

Then I rolled it up the long way, and cut it into pieces.



The pastries on a cookie sheet just before baking

I mixed an egg yolk with a few drops of water and brushed them on the pieces, then sprinkled them with sesame seeds, the usual ones and black ones  (poppy seeds are good too) before popping into a 350 degree oven. They took about 20 minutes or so before they were golden brown and smelling delicious. I took some of them out just a bit early so I could reheat them at Jennifer’s house that evening.


Mmmmm……they weren’t real börek, it’s true — but they were irresistible!



Filed under baked goods, Praise for other cooks, Uncategorized, vegetables

6 responses to “Börek? Not really.

  1. Toby! Thanks so much for following through with my blog recipe and for mentioning it ! Your borek look fantastic! You did so well, using several layers of filo was what I discovered I had to do when I tried the same thing when staying with my sister in Long Beach. Filo is just too thin! Well done! Afiyet olsun to you!

  2. Grace Jackson

    Hi, Toby! What an inspiring recipe – it makes global cuisine more accessible. I will try this recipe this week. Thank you!! Grace

  3. Debbie

    Hi Toby, Love your ingredients, especially the sauteed onions! I have access to yufka, and my faux-boreks are filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, ham, spring onions, laid on the folded edge of a folded in half yufka. It’s rolled into a rope, and finally rolled into a snail shape. I fry them with just a bit of oil in a small non-stick frying pan until they are a beautiful golden brown. I cut them up into borek sized pieces with kitchen shears et voila!

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