Water Pastry with Feta and Kale

Su Böreği

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Anatolia

By David Dale and Somer Sivrioglu

Published 2015

  • About

Although the börek translated as ‘water pastry’ is usually credited to the central Anatolian cities of Ankara and Çorum, ancient cookbooks reveal the Romans were layering lasagne, under the name laganum, in the first century—which was when they moved into Byzantion in northwest Anatolia. So we should probably credit the Romans with starting the fad for layering dough with cheese and greens between. Getting it right is a laborious process, because you must boil and butter each of the eleven layers, then fry or bake the whole thing. But the result is worth the effort, as our Italian culinary cousins would agree.

Normally in my restaurant I cook water börek in the oven in a rectangular tray, and slice it into squares (as shown in the picture opposite). For this recipe though, I’m suggesting you use a round, deep frying pan, and slice the börek into wedges, which makes it look less like lasagne but is easier to work with.

Ingredients

  • 8 kale leaves
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 3 garlic shoots (or 1 garlic clove)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain yoğurt
  • 250 g (9 oz) hard feta
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) strong flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300 g (10½ oz) butter
  • ayran, to serve

Method

Put the kale in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds, then plunge in cold water. Remove the white stalks and finely chop the leaves.

Discard the parsley stalks and finely chop the leaves. Finely chop the garlic shoots (or crush the garlic) and mix in a bowl with the yoğurt. Crumble the feta into the mixture.

Whisk the eggs in a deep mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of water and the salt. Sift the flour into the bowl and mix well. Knead for 10 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a hard dough. Dust your work surface with flour and divide the dough into eleven balls. Dust the dough with flour and rest in a bowl, covered with a damp cloth, for 15 minutes.

Flour a board and, using a thin rolling pin, roll each ball into a 30 cm (12 in) wide round. (Turning the dough on the work surface 90 degrees at a time will ensure a circular pastry.) You can stack the eleven sheets while you do the next step, but be sure to scatter plenty of flour between the sheets so they don’t stick together.

Pour the olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and brush to coat. (The pan should be at least 25 cm/10in across and 10 cm /4in deep.) Warm the butter in a small saucepan.

Fill a deep saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Using a thin rolling pin or the handle of a long wooden spoon, lift one round of dough at a time and dunk it into the pan for 2 minutes. Lift out and pat dry on a clean cloth. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough.

Place a round of dough in the large oiled non-stick frying pan and brush with butter. Slice around it to remove any overlap, and scatter the sliced-off bits on top of it. Place another dough round loosely on top, and brush with butter. Continue to stack to make six layers. Spread the kale and cheese mixture on the sixth layer, then continue to stack another four buttered layers. Cut the final (eleventh) layer to fit as a round over the top (discarding any leftover pastry). Pour the remaining butter on top.

Place the pan over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, constantly tilting the pan to prevent the bottom layer sticking. Place a large plate over the frying pan and, with one hand on the plate and the other hand on the handle, upend the pastry onto the plate.

Brush the inside of the pan again with olive oil and slide the upturned börek into the pan—with the cooked layer now on top. Cook for 8 minutes.

Cut across the börek to make four quarters (with one wedge per person). Serve in the pan with glasses of ayran to accompany the meal.