Updated: Feb 22
Israeli are mad about burekas - a puff pastry filled with savory stuffing. Stroll down the open-air markets in Tel Aviv or Ramla, and you’ll immediately spot stalls selling these flaky pastries, serving them along with grated tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and pickles.
There were times when the reputation of burekas was badly damaged. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, a commercial version of burekas was occasionally served in small social gatherings when there was a need to feed a crowd on a low budget. During these years, a genre of Israeli-made movies that portrayed ethnic stereotypes and were considered very shallow was nicknamed “burekas films.”
There is little to no similarity between these low-quality supermarket burekas to the ones that are sold today at the open-air markets. These at the markets are artfully made with homemade dough, layers upon layers of butter are folded into this dough to create a flaky, rich pastry. The process is labor-intensive (we used this technique for the burekas we sold in farmers' markets over the summer and at our brunch club), which is why we recommend using a store-bought pastry for this recipe. Just look out for high-quality ones made with butter and not vegetable oil or margarine.
Makes 18 Burekas
1 pound (455gr) store-bought puff pastry. Thaw in the refrigerator, and keep it there, chilled, until you are ready the work with it.
100 gr sour cream
120 gr crumbled feta cheese
200 gr cream cheese
2 large eggs (1 for the filling, 1 for the egg wash).
30 gr flour
Sesame, nigella seeds or poppy seeds for topping (optional)
In a mixing bowl, combine the cheeses, flour, and 1 egg. Break up any large crumbles of feta with the fork and mix until well combined.
Unfold your puff pastry and roll it into a thinner sheet. If dough is dry and resist the rolling, brush it with some oil or melted butter.
Divide the pastry into equal 4” squares.
Whisk the remining egg in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of water, and brush over two adjacent edges of each square. Keep the remaining egg wash for later.
Place about 2 tablespoons of the cheese filling in the center of each square.
Lift the non-egg-washed sides and fold it over to meet the other egg-washed side. Use your fingers to press down a bit away from the edges (that will allow the edges to puff when baked).
Place the burekas on a parchment paper-lined sheet, leaving some space between them to allow all sides to brown.
Brush each pastry with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle generously with seeds.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 mins and up to 24 hrs.
Preheat oven to 400℉.
Bake until burekas are puffed and golden brown and cook thoroughly - about 30-35 minutes.
Serve warm with a hard-boiled egg and fresh cut vegetables.
Puff pastry becomes sticky when it is warm, and it is almost impossible to work with it. Work fast, or chill in the fridge or in the freezer if the dough becomes too soft during preparation.
You can prepare all 18 burekas, bake half of them and freeze the rest. Defrost it in the fridge and bake some other time.