Pastries—Yufka, Filo and BöReks

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Stuffing and baking pastries is a huge fad in Turkey, but it’s rare for Turks to make the basic pastry at home, because so many shops sell sheets of yufka (for böreks) and filo (for baklava). The word yufka meant ‘thin’ in the old dialect, and that’s exactly why you risk frustration if you try it at home.

But if you’re game, this is what you need to do to make yufka sheets:

Mix 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) of strong flour with 2 tablespoons of salt and 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water. Knead for about 10 minutes until a flexible dough is formed. Divide the dough into ping-pong-ball-sized lumps. Covering your work surface, hands and a thin rolling pin with lots of flour to prevent sticking, roll and pull each ball out into a sheet about 50 cm (20 in) across. If you have a pasta machine, you could use that to start the rolling process, but you’ll have to finish it by hand.

Now you need to partly cook the pastry. You’ll need a large wok, which will become a device the Turks call a sač.

Scrub the wok clean, inside and out, and put the wok upside down over a lit burner on your stove. Drape a sheet of dough over the wok, and as soon as you see it start to bubble, put another sheet of pastry over it, and flip the pair over. Cook the bottom side of the second sheet for 1 minute or so, then remove the pair (put them on a board next to you) and start again with another sheet. You’re cooking every sheet on one side only, then adding its partner and flipping.

You can keep the partly cooked yufka sheets in the fridge for 3 days. When making böreks, always put the stuffing on the uncooked side.