To mark the final of my three authentic Turkish recipes, I had to end it with one of the most commonly loved pastries in all of Turkey, the Borek. Now you may recognise the name from Middle-Eastern cuisine also and you wouldn’t be wrong as Boreks are popular in many different countries in the east. What is particularly great about them is that they are so versatile and you can put anything you like in them really, from cheese to minced beef or lamb to chicken, nuts and vegetables. They can either be done in one large batch or rolled up as ‘cigars’ and even samosa-like triangles. Whichever way they are made, one thing is for certain, they are absolutely delicious.
I have made my Borek with cheese or ‘Peynir’ as it is known in Turkey. Peynir is a simple white cheese made in large blocks, very similar to feta cheese and so for ease, that’s what I have used in my recipe.
300g of feta
1 270g of Filo pastry (I use ‘Jus-Roll’ brand)
Dried mint, a few scant sprinklings
1 large egg
150ml of fizzy water
3 tablespoons of sunflower, vegetable or light olive oil
A little extra oil to grease the bottom of your oven dish
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (170 if fan assisted)
Rub a little oil onto the surface of your oven dish, just enough to grease it nicely without having pools of oil. Crack your egg into a small bowl, add your oil and your fizzy water and mix really well using a fork or a whisk.
Using about 3 sheets of filo pastry, line the bottom of the dish using the 3 sheets to create a double layer of pastry at the bottom leaving a centimetre or so of extra pastry hanging over the edges. You will have to cut the pastry in order to do this accurately, but that’s fine. Then brush some of the egg mixture onto the pastry, ensuring you coat it evenly and generously but not so it becomes soggy. Then divide your feta cheese into 3 x 100g portions (roughly) and liberally crumble the cheese evenly onto the pastry. Don’t panic that there isn’t enough cheese, it doesn’t need to cover the whole layer but instead should be crumbled finely and evenly across the base. Sprinkle the cheese with a scant showering of dried mint, keeping in mind that too much of it will overpower the delicate cheese.
For the next 2 layers, you will use 2.5 sheets of pastry (again cutting as required) to create a double thick layer of pastry. Then repeat the process of brushing the pastry with eggs, adding your cheese and sprinkling with mint. Once you are done, top with the remaining pastry and then very generously brush the top with some of the egg mixture. This should be a lot more then used in the middle layers. If its easier, use a spoon and drizzle some more of the liquid on the top. You may or may not use up all the liquid, don panic if you haven’t used it all, it will still be fine as its just dependent on your layering. Then tuck any overflowing pastry sheets from the edge over the top and brush them with some of the mixture and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the top is lovely and golden brown.
Eat straight from the oven! Perfect as a snack or a main meal.