How to Make Albanian Byrek

Home 9 Baking World Tour 9 How to Make Albanian Byrek

Byrek, burek, borek. It’s all more or less the same. A pie popular in the Balkan region which can be made with various delicious fillings.

It can be made with meat or vegetables. Particularly popular with spinach and ricotta. The traditional way is using filo pastry which is really thin and crispy. This particular recipe is a bit heartier and chewier. You can control this by rolling the dough thinner or thicker. I used a 10’’ (24cm) tart case, so if you would like to make it flakier, then simply make it a larger diameter.

But regardless of what you choose, it will be a delicious treat. Savoury meat filling encased in layered pastry. This could be a meal all by itself.

This is the second recipe in my Baking World Tour. I know that normally we only do breads around here, but I just had to try and make this. And it did not disappoint.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.

Ingredients

For the dough

350g (12.4oz) strong white bread flour

1 egg

160g (5.6oz) water. The egg and water should have a combined weight of 210g (7.4oz)

7g (0.25oz) salt

 

Soft butter for brushing between the layers

1 egg for brushing the surface before baking

 

For the filling –

500g (1.1lb) minced beef

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

6g (0.2oz) paprika

30g (1oz) tomato paste

Oil for cooking

Salt & pepper to season

Method

  1. Make the dough. In a bowl combine the water, salt & egg. Mix well to disperse all the ingredients and dissolve any large salt crystals. Add the flour and mix to a dough.
  2. Tip out on the table and knead for around 7 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls. This is where you can also control the flakiness of the pastry. If you want it more delicate and crispier, then divide the dough into 16 or even 20 pieces, that way you will have more layers.
  4. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. While the dough balls are chilling make the filling. Cook the beef in a little oil on high heat. Get some good colour on it. Add the onion and garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the paprika and tomato paste. Turn the heat down and cook for another 10 minutes. If the mix is a bit dry, then give it a splash of water. Once the filling is ready put it aside to cool down.
  6. Take the dough balls out of the fridge. Roll them out one by one, brush with soft butter and sprinkle a little flour. Repeat with the next dough ball and place it on top of the first one. If you divided the dough into 12, then make two stacks of 6 discs each – one will be the base and the other will be the top of the pie.
  7. Place the two stacks in the fridge to cool down for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll them out. During this time preheat your oven to 160C (320F) fan on.
  8. Roll each stack out with a little dusting of flour to prevent sticking. This is the point where you can control the texture again. The larger the pastry, the thinner and crispier it will be. Also, the tart case is not totally necessary as this can be made simply on a parchment paper lined tray.
  9. Spread the filling over one of the doughs. Leave a little edge. Place the second dough on top and seal up the edge. Crimp it shut.
  10. Brush the surface with egg. I cut a little hole in the centre of the pie to prevent it from blowing up, but I think this may not be necessary. Better to be safe than sorry though!
  11. Bake the pie for 50 – 60 minutes. Yes, it takes a while. I actually ended up flipping it upside down for the final 15 minutes to make sure the bottom was baked well. My oven does not heat from the bottom. If you have an oven that has heating in the bottom, then you should not worry about this. Because I flipped it, some of the meat juices came out and made the surface of the pie nice and shiny and gave it an intense colour from the paprika, so I guess that might be a plus ha-ha!
  12. Let it cool down a bit and tuck in!

Watch the video here

Understanding the principles of bread making will let you be in complete control every time you make bread. It will reduce the failure rate and turn you into an even more confident home baker.

I highly recommend you check out the Learning page where I have detailed, easy to understand explanations on each step of the bread baking process and the principles behind it. You can find all the equipment I use and recommend in the Shop (UK) & Shop (US) pages.

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