Börek, burek, byrek, byorek… The vowels may change from country to country, but the delicious, savoury pastries found across Turkey and the Balkans are largely the same.
In Albania, spinach seems to be the most common filling for byrek. But they sounded so similar to the spanakopita I occasionally make, that I opted for a cheese version instead.
I came across several Albanian byrek recipes that involved making your own pastry, but knew that would end in tears (in both meanings of the word).
However, I quickly discovered that store-bought phyllo is not elastic enough to form the pretty, spiral-shaped byrek I’d seen online. So I stuck to making the more straightforward cigar-shaped ones, which might not have looked as impressive but tasted delicious.
(makes 6-8 pastries)
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt and pepper
- 1 package phyllo pastry sheets
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Mix together the cottage cheese, feta cheese and egg until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a sheet of phyllo on a work surface. Arrange a line of filling along one long edge, stopping a few centimetres from each end.
- Fold the short edges in so that they cover the filling. Brush the exposed pastry with melted butter, then roll into a cigar shape and place – seam side down – on an oiled baking sheet. Make all the byrek the same way.
- Brush the tops with melted butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
Family score: 8.5 out of 10