Recipe video above. If you think this Borek looks amazing, just wait until you taste it!! A spiced lamb filling littered with pine nuts and currants encased in layers up on layers of flaky filo pastry arranged in a dramatic spiral, this pastry goes by various names incuding burek, bourekas, and byrek.It's an excellent return on effort, looking so much more difficult than it actually is to make!Vegetarian version - Use the spinach feta filling from Spanakopita!
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Turkish
Keyword: borek, filo pastry, phyllo pastry, turkish pastry
Servings: 5- 6 people
1onion, finely diced (1 small or 1/2 a large)
2garlic cloves, finely minced
600g / 1.2 lblamb mince(ie. ground lamb, or substitute beef)
1 1/2tspground cumin
3/4tspeach of ground coriander, cinnamon, paprika(plain or sweet paprika)
1/2tspallspice(sub mixed spice or similar spice mix)
1/2tspcayenne pepper or Turkish red pepper flakes(reduce for less spicy)
1 1/4tspsalt(cooking / kosher salt, OR 1 tsp table salt)
1/3cupcurrants(or raisins or sultanas, roughly chopped)
25g / 1 1/2 tbspunsalted butter, melted and cooled
White sesame seeds(optional)
Lemon Yogurt Sauce:
1/4tspgarlic, finely grated
1tbspextra virgin olive oil
Cook onion and garlic: Heat oil on high in a large skillet. Cook onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes until softened.
Cook lamb and spices: Add lamb and cook lamb, breaking it up as you go, until mostly changes from pink to brown. Then add all the spices and cook for 1 minute.
Simmer: Add tomato passata and water, mix. Then add currants and pine nuts. Bring to simmer, turn heat down to medium low and cook until liquid reduces so the mixture is moist but not watery.
Cool: Remove from stove and allow to fully cool before using.
Lemon Yogurt Sauce:
Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C / 390°F (180°C fan).
Yogurt Wash (Note 4): Mix ingredients until combined.
Prepare filo: Open the filo pastry packet and unroll the pastry. Peel one layer off and place on a piece of baking / parchment paper. Cover the remainder with a lightweight damp tea towel to stop them from drying out.
Brush with yogurt wash: Drizzle / flick yogurt wash across filo using a pastry brush. Then lightly brush across surface in a thin layer. You don't need to cover every inch, just mostly cover the surface.
Layer filo: Top with another filo pastry sheet, and brush this too with yogurt wash. Then repeat so you have 4 layers in total, but do not brush the last (4th) filo with yogurt wash once laid.
Fill and roll: Place 1/3 of the Lamb filling along the bottom edge. Using the aid of a long kitchen knife to get it started, roll up into a log. Doesn't need to be tight and don't try, as the pastry is delicate.
Make 3 logs: Repeat to make 3 logs, using all the Filling.
Shape into spiral and bake:
Spiral: Take one log and place on a piece of baking / parchment paper. Coil into a spiral. Join a second log to the first by stuffing the ends inside each other, using yogurt wash to adhere. Continue forming the spiral. Log sides should be in contact but not tightly squished.
Transfer to baking vessel: Brush a 26cm / 10.5″ cast iron skillet (Note 5) with melted butter. Then use the paper to transfer the borek into the skillet, and slide the paper out.
Brush with butter: Brush the top with butter, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Serve! Remove from oven. Cut wedges like pie. Serve with Lemon Yogurt Sauce!
1. Pine nuts - Preheat skillet (no oil) over medium high heat. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring / shaking regularly, until golden and smelling nutty. Remove from skillet straight away otherwise they will burn.2. Tomato passata - Pureed, strained pure tomatoes, sometimes labelled Tomato Puree in the US (here's a photo of Mutti Tomato Passata sold at Walmart). Readily available in Australian supermarkets nowadays, alongside pasta sauces.3. Filo pastry (aka phyllo pastry) – Paper thin pastry sheets used in Eastern European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Best to use refrigerated filo pastry if you can, as it’s more pliable than frozen-then-thawed and thus easier to handle. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes prior. Once you take it out of the package, keep it covered with a slightly damp tea towel so it doesn’t dry out.Australia: I recommend Antoniou brand filo pastry sold in the fridge section. You will need 1 x 375g packs which has 18 to 22 sheets in each pack (we need 12 for this recipe). See below for usage ideas for leftovers, including trimmings. If you use the frozen packs, you’ll need 1 pack but they often only have 15 sheets so you’ll need to assemble the offcuts to do one of the layers. // USA: I understand the standard size is 1 lb packs which has 40 sheets so you’ll have a fair amount of leftovers. Make 2 or 3 Borek, hey?!!!Frozen phyllo pastry – Thaw overnight in the fridge. Don’t try to rush the thawing by placing it in a warm place. It makes the pastry brittle. Handle with care, as it is less pliable than refrigerated pastry.Puff pastry alternative – Though not the same, you could use puff pastry instead of filo pastry. The bake time will be closer to 40 minutes.4. Yogurt wash - It will look a bit curdled and congealed, that's normal. If it becomes too thick and cold, warm to loosen. Ensure it is only warm when you use - if hot, it will make the filo soggy.5. Baking vessel – My 26cm / 10.5″ cast iron skillet is the perfect size to fill with a Borek spiral made with 3 sheets of filo pastry. Any similar size round baking dish – such as a tart pan or large pie dish – will work just fine.You can even free form it on a baking tray because the Borek will not spread when baking.6. Recipe source - Created with reference to online Turkish resources including Ozlem's Turkish Table, this borek recipe from Vidar Bergum, and replicating the flavours of Borek I've tried here in Sydney as well as the famous borek at Borek Shop in Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.7. Storage and reheating – You can keep borek in the fridge. However the pastry will soften. Reheat slices in a 200C oven for 10 - 15 minutes, or microwave (but will go soggy).8. Make ahead – You can assemble Borek and freeze. Cook straight from frozen or thaw and bake. You can also make ahead and keep in fridge before baking but I would minimise the time before cooking to ensure the filling doesn't start to soak the pastry and make it soggy.