Burek is a Turkish dish that made its way to Serbia through the Ottoman empire – even today there’s easily a 100 varieties of burek available in Turkey. Fillings vary, from meat and cheese to vegetables. In the Balkan regions it is made with ample amounts of butter, a deviation from its water-based variations in Turkey. It’s a dish that calls for less ingredients but a lot of skill, says Chef Urosh Mitrasinovic, Head chef at the Balkan restaurant 21Grams, who demonstrated the burek for us.
Before you start:
• You need a big surface to roll the dough out – a round table will do nicely. Put the edges of the dough around the table and pull towards you - this is the old-school way of preparing the dough.
• The use of plenty of butter is very important so the burek isn’t dry – beef fat and ghee or clarified butter can be used as an alternative.
• Frozen filo pastry doesn’t do the dish justice. You can buy fresh filo sheets from some Turkish suppliers around the UAE.
• This is a many-layered, richer version of the dish. You can choose to reduce the number of layers.
380ml cold water
1. Add the flour, water and salt to a stand mixer.
2. Mix at medium speed until the dough is smooth.
3. Take it out from the mixing bowl.
4. Divide it in four pieces
5. Shape them into balls.
6. Cover each ball generously with butter.
7. Let it rest for two hours – this is a very important step for elasticity when stretching dough. The filo will then be crispy after a day and butter will be incorporated, or will be smooth like pasta. This makes it rustic.
8. Once rested, the dough is ready to be stretched.
9. Take a dough ball and press it with your hands to make it as thin as possible.
10. Spread a bit of butter on the dough.
11. Then stretch it even more, by lifting it off the table.
12. Continue stretching the dough following the above steps. The final product should be a transparent (see-through) dough.
13. Repeat the process to make a second layer of dough following the above steps.
14. Spread a bit more butter on the rolled dough. Then fold the sides, making a square.
15. Spoon half the cheese on top. This is your burek base. Place this base on top of the first dough layer you made.
16. Close up the base dough layer with the second one and make a square again.
17. Make the third and fourth dough layers. Place the first and second dough layers on the third layer.
18. Put more cheese on top.
19. Close up with the third layer. (You can repeat the above steps to add a fourth layer to the burek.)
20. Fold into a square. Place your burek in a pizza tray of 28-30 cm in diameter.
21. Bake at 220C for 40 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
22. Brush melted butter on top.
23. Flip over.
24. Cut in 4 pieces. Enjoy
Location courtesy: 21Grams
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