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Puff Pastry Cheese Bourekas

March 12, 2021
From ‘The Book of New Israeli Food,’ photography by Eilon PazFrom ‘The Book of New Israeli Food,’ photography by Eilon Paz

When I served in the military at the naval base in downtown Haifa, at the end of my shift I would stop by a branch of Sami Bourekas at the central bus station, and grab a couple of oven-fresh pies: one with cheese, one with spinach, and if I had a lousy day, one with mashed potatoes, too. As the bus climbed up Mount Carmel, I munched on warm, flaky pies and washed them down with ayran, a chilled savory yogurt drink. Half an hour later, when I got off the bus, the greasy paper bag was empty, my uniform was speckled with golden pastry flakes, and a hint of heartburn was rising in my chest—made worse by guilt about the million calories these margarine-rich treats had cost me. Since then, I have tasted countless bourekas, infinitely better than Sami’s, but one never forgets one’s first love, even if it is slathered with margarine.

Featured in: The Story Behind Bourekas

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 9oz (250 g) ricotta or fresh farmers cheese
  • 4oz (120 g) good feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1egg yolk
  • 3 ½oz (100 g) hard cheese (kashkaval, Greek kasseri, Parmesan, pecorino), grated

FOR THE PASTRY

  • 1package (1 lb., 500 g) all-butter puff pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge
  • 1egg, diluted with 1 tablespoon water
  • cup sesame seeds

Preparation

For the filling

  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

  • Step 2

    Combine all ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

For the pastry

  • Step 1

    Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 12-inch (30-cm) square. Cut into 4-inch (10-cm) squares.

  • Step 2

    Place a scant tablespoon of the filling in the center of each square. Wet a finger and run it around the edges of the square. Fold the square diagonally to make a triangular pocket. Pinch the edges together. Repeat with the rest of the squares.

  • Step 3

    Arrange the bourekas on the baking sheets, brush with diluted egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

  • Step 4

    Bake for 30 minutes until deep golden. Bourekas are best oven fresh, if you want to save them for later, freeze them and heat in 350°F (180°C) oven (no need to defrost) for 35 to 40 minutes.

    Makes about 25 bourekas

  • Step 5

    Tip: I like my bourekas with a lot of cheese, which causes them sometimes to leak through while baking. If you prefer them neater looking, use less filling—a heaping teaspoon per boureka. You can also stir 1 teaspoon cornstarch into the filling to make it less runny.

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