Elvira, a native of Albania, taught us how to make byrek, an Albanian filled pastry. Albanian cheese triangles are made with several layers of a simple dough rolled thinly by hand and filled with a mixture of salty cheese, milk and egg. Serve these warm or at room temperature with a chopped salad for lunch, or make bite-size ones for hors d’oeuvres. They’re also a perfect picnic food.
Albanian cheese triangles
Preparation time: 40min
Cooking time: 45min
Skill level Mid
- 160 g all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
- pinch of kosher salt
- 90 ml warm water
- 90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 225 g crumbled feta cheese
- 60 ml whole milk
Cooling time 15 minutes
Put the flour, salt, water, and 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, soft, and doesn’t stick to your fingers, about 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl you mixed it in and let rest.
Meanwhile, crack 1 of the eggs into a small bowl and whisk lightly. Whisk in the feta, milk, and 1 scant tablespoon of the olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces (each weighing about 93 g). Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the rest covered with plastic wrap), use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin 30 cm square. If the dough resists as you’re rolling it, let it rest for a few minutes before proceeding.
Drizzle the square with 1 scant tablespoon of the olive oil and use your fingers to spread it over the entire surface of the dough. Cut the dough into 4 even strips, each measuring about 7.5 cm wide. Set a strip vertically with a short end facing you. Put 1½ tablespoons of the feta filling at the top end of the strip, about 2.5 cm down from the top and 2.5 cm in from the right edge. Lift the upper left-hand corner of the dough and fold it down and diagonally over the filling to meet the right edge of the dough and form a triangle. Now fold the triangle of covered filling down toward you, thus encasing the triangle in another layer of dough. Then fold that triangle over on the diagonal to line up with the left side of the dough strip. Continue with these two motions, like folding a flag, to encase the triangle in more layers of dough until you reach the end of the strip. Put the triangle, seam side down, onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat the entire process with the remaining dough, olive oil, and filling until you use everything up. You will have 12 triangles by the time you’re done. Evenly space the triangles on the baking sheet.
Crack the remaining egg into a small bowl and beat lightly. Brush the triangles with the egg.
Bake the triangles, rotating the baking sheet front to back halfway through the baking time, until they’re golden brown, 45 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.