Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Yufka Re-Visited --- A Bit of a Stretch
Yufka is a Turkish pastry mentioned in previous dispatches. Thin but not as thin as Phyllo. Rustic, gutsy- really useful as a wrapping for just about anything. There are many brands, much of it handmade and excellent. At Bas Foods in Victoria Street Brunswick about 2 years ago, I found and bought two of the long thin pins used to roll them but I had never plucked up the courage to try to make Yufka. Then of course she disappeared for a while: not available from the usual suspects. So we worked on the pastry for a while and realised that none of the printed recipes would work. Getting the pastry to stretch as much as Yufka needs to requires something special.
My mother made very fine strudel, in fact the first work she did after we arrived from Hungary in 1957 was to open a strudel shop in the old St.Kilda market in Acland St. I remembered that she always added a little vinegar to the dough and this made it very easy to stretch. When the Ottoman Empire added Hungary to its range of influence it brought with it many culinary delights including Paprika, and Phyllo and although some historians still argue the point it is widely thought that strudel also came with the Turks.
After a little trial and error we had the dough right but stretching it with the long thin pins proved to be a little difficult. We wrongly assumed that the uneven surface of our workbenches was why we could not roll them out easily. But when we got to Istanbul the secret was revealed. If you look closely at the rolling pins they are not flat but ever so slightly thicker in the centre tapering out gently on both sides. The dough is rolled out roughly then rolled carefully onto the pin and the stretching is done while the pastry is rolled up on the pin with a gentle rolling and outward pressure. As it gets thinner a little flour is sprinkled onto the inner surface so it does not stick together on the pin. To get a round shape you need to rotate the pastry 90 degrees each time between rolls. With a little practice we were soon making quite acceptable Yufka and now incorporate it into our cooking classes if the occasion is right.
The flour should be of medium strength, half bakers’ flour and half plain flour with a little wholemeal flour. The shapes of the finished product can be cigars, triangles, semicircles, rolls, spirals or even full round pies about half a metre in diameter. Most of the fillings we tasted in Turkey were a variation of cheese and cooked and or raw greens. Wild weeds, purslane, cress, unique varieties of spinach and the cheeses were just as variable some crumbly and dry, others fresh and moist. The pastries can be fried or baked and the leftover scraps can be used fresh or dried as a pasta.
At the moment we are making Yufka rolls with Celariac, Pumpkin and Kale flavoured with garlic and orange zest and serving it with a side dish of smokey eggplant and pomegranates.
Recipe for the Pastry
150g Strong Flour 150g plain flour 50g wholemeal flour
200 to 250g water
10 g Salt and 10ml of vinegar or lemon Juice
Knead into a smooth dough and roll into small balls the size of a lemon and rest for one hour.
After rolling out the pastry as described above lightly seal on a warm hotplate or an upside down wok. We like to brush each sheet with melted butter and sprinkle some dried home made breadcrumbs over it, to separate and keep each layer crisp before rolling— but that’s just the Magyar in me.