This borek is very famous all-over Turkey, especially in the Black Sea Region, in the north. The crispy outer layers, squeaky soft layers of lasagna-like sheets, warm and melting cheese taste in-between might be the reason for its popularity. Store-bought versions are also available in Turkey and those are nothing short of being delicious, but home-made borek with the finest ingredients is always better IMHO.
So many people are intimidated by the idea of making pasta from scratch. If you can find semolina flour, it makes the process a lot easier and affects the outcome quite positively. To get semolina flour you’ll look for ‘semola di grano duro’. Also, flour types made from the harder wheat grains are very much suitable for this borek recipe. The harder the wheat that flour is made from, the more protein and gluten it contains. Harder flour types are good for making this borek as the pastry sheets will be boiled.
For making the layers of lasagna:
350 gr/ 3 cups semolina flour or unbleached general purpose flour or a mix of both
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 more cup of flour to knead and roll
For the cheese filling:
100 gr feta cheese
200 gr grated kashar, cheddar, Mozzarella or any type of mild flavored meltable cheese
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves
For assembling and baking:
3 lt of boiling water with 1 teaspoon of salt added,
2 tablespoons of sunflower or olive oil,
150 gr butter, melted,
10-12 sheets of fillo dough (to go for the top and bottom layers of our borek – optional)
Please note that you’ll also need a colander and a 30-40 cm round baking tray. If you use a pasta machine to roll the sheets, then you can use a square or rectangular tray accordingly. Make sure that you have at least 10-12 layers of pastry in your borek and adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly.
Now the directions: Mix the dough ingredients and knead well and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 10-12 pieces. You will need a thin, long and stick-straight rolling pin to roll the sheets for your borek. The rolling pin should look like this.
Roll the dough disks into pancake-like pieces. Use lots of flour to avoid sticking. Cover with a clean cloth and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
Roll each piece the same size as your baking tray. If they turn out to be thicker than 1 mm, continue to roll until you reach the desired thickness which is less than a mm. The sheet will be larger than your tray, but it’s OK, you can place the round baking tray on the sheet you just rolled and cut out the excess part around the tray with a knife.
Another way to roll the sheets is to make the lasagna sheets using a pasta machine. That works alright too. You just need to change your baking tray from round to rectangular and adjust the size of the tray according to the size of your machine-rolled pastry sheets.
Prepare the filling by crumbling the feta and mixing it with grated kashar (or any other meltable cheese) and chopped parsley.
Now, boil each pastry sheet individually for one or two minutes in salted oil-added boiling water and then plunge into a bowl of preferably icy cold water. If you will use fillo dough sheets you can boil all of the sheets you roll, if not, do not boil the last two of your pastry sheets. Remember to preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Finally, drain and layer the sheets in a baking tray, starting with 5-6 fillo sheets or one unboiled rolled sheet at the bottom, brushing each with a little melted butter. Between every two or three boiled sheets spread the cheese filling. Do not add filling between the fillo sheets at the bottom.
When you finish all the boiled pastry sheets, put 5-6 fillo sheets as the top layer next to the boiled sheet without any filling between or the other unboiled pastry sheet.
Brush some oil on top and stick it in the preheated oven at 180 degrees until golden, which is usually around 30-35 minutes. Cut into slices and it makes a great breakfast pastry!
Once you make this borek and like it, you might wanna double the amount of all the ingredients and make it in the largest tray that can fit into your oven as making it is much time consuming and you can freeze the borek slices once they are baked. To re-heat the frozen borek slices, put them into a pan on low heat for 10 minutes, turning the slices mid-way through.