Burek is a family of baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo (or yufka), found in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire.
Today, every country in the Balkans has its own recipe. The most regionally prominent is Bosnian Burek with meat. Bosnians would say to this recipe: ” This is not Burek!!! Burek is only made with meat, everything else is a pie.”
In Croatia Burek is made from layers of dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and then topped with a last layer of dough. Traditionally it may be baked with no filling, with stewed minced meat and onions, or with cheese. Modern bakeries offer cheese and spinach ( yummy 🙂 ), apple, sour cherries, potato, mushroom, and pizza-burek as well.
I love, love cheese, any kind of cheese, so I decided to make homemade Cheese Burek with homemade yufka (phyllo) dough.
Since to make homemade phyllo dough you need time, I’ll write a recipe with store-bought phyllo dough, too.
Recipe for homemade phyllo dough is adapted from He Needs Food. If you decide to make homemade phyllo dough, I advise you to visit John’s blog since he posted photos that will help you in making your own phyllo dough.
It may be eaten for any meal of the day. Traditionally you have it with a glass of cold milk or yogurt.
I remember my college days and going out on weekends. Every Sunday morning, after a Saturday night out, we stopped at our favorite bakery, where they have made an excellent Burek. Today, that bakery is, unfortunately, out of business.
Cheese Burek with Homemade Phyllo Dough
- Homemade Phyillo dough recipe follows
- 1 1/2 cup cottage cheese approx 350 g
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbled (100g)
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- vegetable oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 250g
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup water approx
- vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water a little at a time, mixing with your hand, until the dough comes together. You may not need all of the water.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until soft and elastic. Divide into two and flatten to about 2½ cm or an inch.
- Take a bowl big enough to hold 2 pieces of dough when you stack them on top of one another .
- Pour a little vegetable oil into the bowl, place one piece of pastry into it, pour a little more oil over and put second piece over first. Pour enough vegetable oil over the top to virtually cover the stack of dough.
- Set aside for half an hour while you make the cheese filling.
- Place both cheeses into a mixing bowl and stir through the beaten egg.
- To prep the work surface you need to spread a thin layer of vegetable oil all over it, so make sure you are using something like a stone bench top or laminate. Don’t go oiling up your wooden table!
- Take one disc of pastry from the oil, scrape off the oil, then place it onto your oiled work bench. With oiled hands, flatten the disc from the inside to outside until it is about 5 mm (0.2 inch) thick.
- Then place your fingers under the edge, gently grab, lift and stretch the dough outwards.
- Working your way around all of the edges, you’re basically stretching the disc to a diameter of 1 metre.
- It is quite elastic so just make sure your nails don’t pierce the dough otherwise it’ll tear, but no drama if you have a few holes.
- The dough needs to be so thin that you can see through it. Once you reach the required diameter take one side of the large disc and fold it towards (and just over) the centre. Work your way around the disc, lifting and folding 4 more times to form a rough pentagon. Lift the folded pastry and set is aside as you make and stretch another disc just like the first.
- Once the second disc is stretched place the first folded one in the centre. Take a knife and cut the thicker edge of the second disc away, discarding it. Leaving the thick edge intact will give you clumps of dough in the cooked burek, which you don’t want. Take the cheese filling and spread it over the folded dough in the centre.
- As you did with the first disc, fold the edges over the cheese mixture to form a rough pentagon. Gently work your fingers underneath the uncooked burek so you can lift it onto a baking pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. As soon as it comes out of the oven drizzle the top with a little water and oil then cover with a cloth. Allow it to sit, covered, until it cools a bit. To serve, cut the burek into 4-6 peices. Serve warm.