Introduction: Phyllo Dough Texture Manipulation:Turkish Cheese Borek
Hi! In this latest Instructable, we are going to explore new techniques that we could achieve when using Phyllo/Fillo dough. We are just going to use a store bought pastry dough today, it is cheap, convenient and give us much room to play around this delicate pastry. At the same time, we be making a Turkish delicacy called, the Cheese Borek which sums up as a savory and sweet cheese phyllo pie baked in the oven and later doused in sugar syrup.
Today we are just going to focus on two simple techniques, which is Pleats and Rosettes. I personally think they are a great way for you to understand the nature of this fragile dough that has similar qualities to fabric (but has the capability of drying up pretty quickly). But let's not get that factor hinder us to make this beautiful pie. With that in mind, let's get to it!
Step 2: The Things You'll Need:
First and foremost, I have to acknowledge that an original recipe usually requires you to use Turkish White cheese. If you can get a hold of that, that's great! But if you live somewhere that doesn't sell authentic middle eastern cheese, you can substitute with either Feta which is most commonly used, or if you are like me and not really fan of crumbly cheeses I use what I can find in my grocery store. Personally Muenster and Mozzarella are my top choice because it is incredibly creamy, mild and stretches beautifully. In addition to that, you can choose to use salted or unsalted butter, depending on your preference.
1 package of Store bought Phyllo Dough, completely thawed and room temp
1 stick (113g) of Butter (Salted or unsalted)
1 package of Muenster cheese
1 package of mozzarella
For the sugar syrup:
1/2 cup of white granulated sugar
1/2 cup of water
Kitchen tools you'll need:
2 large clean kitchen towels
A pastry brush or brand new artist brush
Pie pan or Shallow pan of your choice
A small saucepot
Scissor and sharp knife
Step 3: Prepping Your Workstation
Begin by melting your butter in a small sauce pot. Meanwhile, lightly dampen your kitchen towel. Do not let it be soaked through, just damp enough to keep your phyllo dough moist and workable, but not wet it's surface or your dough is just going to stick to each other to become one sticky nightmare. Simply imagine your pastry is like tissue, too wet and it sticks and tears all easy. Unroll your fully thawed dough and lay it in between the towels.
Step 4: First Layer
Begin my brushing your pie pan with melted butter to prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom.Then gently place in your first phyllo layer, pressing the bottom gently and brushing it with butter, corners included.
Lay and press in more dough one thin layer at a time, buttering them in between constantly. Repeat till you have completed 10 layers total.
After your 10th layer, pour some mozzarella cheese followed by a layer of Muenster on top. Then place two more layers of phyllo to cover the cheese.
Lay another layer of cheese and once again cover with two more layers of Phyllo.
Then with the palm of your hands, gently fold the excess over into the pie, all around.
Place one layer of phyllo to cover the seams, and tuck the sides under. Butter your phyllo.
Once your pie is completed, place it aside covered with a lightly damp kitchen towel.
Step 10: First Design: Simple Pleats
Before starting, clean up your workstation to make some room.
Pull one thin layer of phyllo, the brush the layer with butter, ensuring all surface is brushed. We want to NOT miss any spots, because then those areas will dry up and shatter because it gets extremely brittle. When we start folding small pleats, the butter acts as a barrier against evaporation and added moisture.
Using both hands, lay your ring fingers under the phyllo, and inch from the bottom side. Use your ring fingers to gently pull the phyllo to create one fold. If you have made a paper fan, it is the same technique but with different handling because we do not want to be rough or it will immediately tear. Repeat until you reached the end.
Using a sharp knife and one quick down motion, trim the edges on both sides. The cut again into threes.
Using an offset spatula or a flat spatula, gently lift the crimp pleated layers and lay it unto your pie. You can used your hands too, but be gentle not to pull the pleats apart. Also, if your fee like your pleats are running around on top of your pie, brush a little butter to act as a temporary glue to stick down quickly.
Continue to lay your pleats unto your pie. I lay them alternately to make it look like a basket weave design. If you are using a round pan, trim your edges using a sharp scissor.
Step 15: Design Two: Rosettes
Peel one layer of phyllo and brushed all surface and corners with melted butter.
Then, cut the into strips by dividing it first in half. Then lay one half on top of the other. Repeat cutting it in half, four times to create strips about 1/2 an inch wide.
Roll one end of the strip and continue rolling all the way down to the other end or just halfway. Then place your rosettes on top of your pie.
Continue and repeat the process until you cover the whole of your pie or just partial like mine. The ones that are rolled halfway can be wrapped around other rosettes or fill in any empty spots.
Drizzle a little butter on top of your rosettes or brushed some butter on your pleats (in the same direction as its folds to prevent tearing) before baking.
Step 19: Preheat Your Oven
Preheat your oven to 380 degree Fahrenheit or 193 degree Celcius
Bake your Borek at 380 degree Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes until your phyllo is nice and golden brown.
Meanwhile, boil your sugar and water in a small sauce pot. let it boil for 5 minutes and turn off the heat, set aside.
Once baked, pour your sugar syrup immediately, Glazing it all over the top and edges, enjoying the bubbly sounds as it hits the hot pan.
Let it cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
There's a debate when pouring syrup unto hot phyllo, some say to pour it while it's piping hot from the oven, while some would say to pour it when the phyllo is cooled. All this debate is to answer a simple question: Which one will keep the phyllo crispy and not soggy? Honestly i prefer to pour it while it's piping hot, because once it cools, the pie naturally will contract and shrinks a little. It wouldn't be able to adsorb if it's interior is already compact. And the phyllo still remains crunchy at room temperature despite being doused with syrup. It will only get chewy if you decide to keep in in the refrigerator. the cool moist air in the fridge will be adsorb into the dough, making it less crispy.
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