Imagine flaky pastry, crispy and buttery. Now imagine it enveloping spiced minced lamb, juicy and dripping. Well, you’re not getting that today. But don’t be too disappointed because I’ve got something just as good, but a bit healthier. Naturally.Gozleme are a popular Turkish street food, often stuffed with lamb, vegetables or cheese. You can also get them as thinly fried pastries consisting of just butter – or cheese and butter – layered into the dough as you would if making puff pastry, and fried to flaky perfection. Not quite everyday food for most of us, but possibly something to try. Just once.
I have eaten gozleme in Turkey. Not in a jostling, colourful and spice-fugged market, but in a rather pleasant hotel. This was back in our carefree pre-child days, when we would rock up to a travel agent (remember those?) for a last-minute deal, and the next week land in a warm country not knowing anything more than we would be staying in a three-star hotel. No town or hotel name. How intrepid were we?
We got lucky with this trip. After a truly hair-raising bus trip of winding mountain roads, car-swallowing potholes and a driver with a death wish (or maybe he was late for his dinner), we pitched up at a bougainvillea-swathed apartment. More importantly was the pulse-quickening sight just below our window: a poolside buffet laid with platters of food, pitchers of wine and bottles of fiery, anise seed-scented raki. Good start. One of the favourite dishes was shatteringly flaky gozleme. One bite sent splinters of pastry in all directions, but a good bit of it into one’s mouth. Heavenly. I don’t remember the fillings, but as we were vegetarian I’m sure they were veg and cheese, but what I cannot recall. It was 20 plus years ago.
There were also plates of griddled aubergines and courgettes, laced with mountain herbs and crimson flecks of chillies, platters of kebabs and flatbreads, and too many salads to count. I felt a bit lightheaded, probably from the lingering heat, but quite possibly from happiness. After a quiet fist bump that we had opted for half-board, Mr A and I stripped off quite a few layers of clothing and headed down to tuck in. Magical.
Today’s meal version is quite different to the snacky street food ones that are more typical. Rather than a singular filling in an envelope of windowpane pastry, these hunkier yeasted dough pastries are filled to bursting with bright vegetables and your choice of flavourings. I guess it is really much more a stuffed bread. But a lot easier than most stuffed breads.
To be honest, I think the sweet potato needs the balance of salty, citrussy feta cheese rather than the cheddar shown. Our last test pastry had the feta, and Mr A crammed it in his mouth before I could divide it up further. So perhaps switch the potato to white and the cheddar will work perfectly. As for the chutney, it is brilliant but I am thinking of trying lime pickle next time. Maybe I will mix the two. Now that would be a perfect foil for the sweet potato. And yes, I know these aren’t Turkish flavours, but I do like them.
I am keen to make the flaky version for myself but I really love this dough, one I have lightly adapted from an Australian recipe. On a side note, if you follow a Australian recipe verbatim – and you aren’t Australian – do remember they have different measuring cup sizes to the US and UK. I checked and adjusted my measurements for UK and US readers. In my opinion weight trumps volume as a yardstick of measurement, so to speak.
If you have never made yeasted dough, this is one to start with: it is easy and very forgiving of amateurs such as myself. You would definitely manage it, no problem. If you are still nervous, make the gozleme with filo pastry, or the thicker Turkish equivalent, yufka. If going the filo route you will need some clarified butter or oil to brush between the layers – about two sheets of dough for each of four large pastries.
Although I no longer have a little one in the house (Rachel has long towered over me), I feel confident that – barring the chilli and maybe the chutney (certainly the lime pickle), this is will be a big hit with children and teens. We scoffed them down as they were made, but if you are not so hungry/greedy/needing natural light to photograph, take your time and eat these with a crisp salad and maybe some lemon wedges.
Researching the recipe I noticed quite a variation in dough and filling types. Here are a few examples that merit a click.
Gozleme ( butter and cheese) via Turkish Food and Recipes
Spinach and Feta Gozleme via Manu’s Menu
Gozleme (lamb mince) via Kidspot
Easy Filo Pastry with Cheese (Gozleme) via Mommy Cook For Me
Have you had Gozleme? Have you made it? Which dough and what fillings do you like?
Last year: Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade Gratin
Two years ago: Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne – low-fat and luscious
Miss R’s track of the week: Fly Boy Blue/Lunette, Elbow (brand new – album out in March)
Gozleme are a popular Turkish street food, often stuffed with lamb, vegetables or cheese. You can also get them as thinly fried pastries consisting of just butter – or cheese and butter- layered into the dough as you would if making puff pastry, and fried to flaky perfection. Not quite everyday food for most of us!
If you can’t make the time for the dough – or you want it buttery and crispy – do use filo or the Turkish equivalent. Change out the vegetables and flavourings to your liking and the season, just making sure they aren’t too wet. A chard, halloumi and sumac take are on my ‘to make’ list. Oh btw, this will make a terrific inclusion in a lunchbox, maybe with a wee pot of yogurt to dip it in.
Adapted from taste.com.au
8g quick yeast (the kind that you activate in water first)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp caster/fine sugar
275ml warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
450g (3 & 1/3 cups) white spelt flour, or plain flour (not bread flour)
400g sweet potato, white potato or pumpkin, peeled and small dice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
150g broccoli, thinly sliced small pieces
1-2 chillies, finely chopped (optional)
salt and pepper
75g grated strong Cheddar cheese OR 100g best feta cheese (optional) OR 100g sliced and pan-fried paneer
A few tablespoons good quality spicy mango chutney (I like Patak) or lime pickle (optional)
1. Make the dough by stirring together the yeast, water and sugar. Set the mixture aside for a few minutes until it starts to look a bit bubbly.
2. Now sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and pour in the bubbly, yeasty water. Mix with a wooden spoon or one hand to make a soft dough. It will be quite loose and sticky. Turn it onto onto a well-floured board and knead for five minutes, until elastic and springy. I did all of this in my Kitchen-Aid with the dough hook attached. If doing likewise, mix until the dough is fully on the hook and not in the bowl – about three minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and lay on an oiled baking tray; cover and leave to rise until nearly doubled. The rising time really depends on the room temperature – anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour. The warmer the room, the quicker the rise.
4. While the dough is rising (proving), prepare your filling.
5. Steam the potato or squash until tender but not falling apart. My sweet potatoes took 10 minutes to steam. Lightly mash them, keeping it all quite chunky.
7. When the dough is ready take each piece and either dust a board heavily with flour or lightly dust a silicone mat or use baking parchment – I used a mat as the dough is quite soft and desperate to stick to my wooden countertop. Shape one piece into a rough rectangle, patting and stretching it fairly thin then rolling out with a floured rolling pin. Get it as thin as you dare, but not risking it tearing. Trim the sides to keep the shape.
8. Heat a ridged griddle pan or large, heavy sauté pan on a medium flame.
9. Place one quarter of the vegetable mixture on the upper half of the rolled pastry sheet. Top with a quarter of the cheese of choice and chutney or pickle, if using. Use the mat or baking paper to pull the dough up and over the filled half. Press to seal the dough edges. I rolled the edges up with my fingers, but that isn’t necessary.
10. Carefully transfer the pastry parcel onto the heated griddle- I tipped it from the silicone mat directly onto the hot griddle – and cook for three minutes on each side. Carry on with the remaining dough and filling. Cut each pastry into three or six pieces. Eat warm.
Makes 12-24 pieces, serving 4-6 as lunch/heavy snack, or as an appetiser/part of a mezze
This week I’d like to send this over to the weekly Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays hosted by the exceedingly lovely Mark. Popping back to the UK for the new and veg-centric Extra Veg challenge hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy. Then over to Ren Behan who hosts Simple and In Season from her elegant, eponymous blog. And finally over to the Four Seasons Food Challenge (‘Virtuous’ is the theme) over at Eat Your Veg and Delicieux. Thanks so much for these fabulous public platforms and for your fantastic hosting. Most appreciated x