Eastern European

The Savory Pastry You'll Find in Bakeries All Over Serbia

March 29, 2017

I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman who immigrated to the US from Belgrade many years ago. A retired scientist from Caltech, Bea still makes recipes that remind her of Serbia in her small Connecticut kitchen. She would call her mother for reminders of how to make certain dishes, but she would also adapt and customize when need be.

One of her favorite dishes to make is “pita” (otherwise known as “burek”), a filled pastry available in bakeries all over Serbia and many other Eastern European countries, too. To make it, layers of flaky dough are wrapped around fillings of meat, cheese, and sometimes, for dessert, apples and nuts.

When it’s made in a bakery, where a very thin dough is typically twisted into impressive shapes, it’s referred to as “burek”; but when it’s prepared at home, many women use phyllo dough as a shortcut and call the dish as “pita” (as in spanakopita and tiropita).

Bea told me that the round burek was originally created in Niš, Serbia, which still hosts an annual competition called Buregdžijada.

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Top Comment:
“I had the pleasure to live in Serbia for several months, years ago. The food left such an impression on me. The air would fill with the aromas of what was being made and I was perpetually craving what was wafting around, and it has lingered with me for years. I find myself craving the bread, the pickled peppers and so many other things including this pie - which I recall was so delicious with cheese. Definitely going to be making it, thank you so much!!”
— Michele
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She makes both the meat and cheese burek (the latter of which is called sirnica burek) often using store-bought phyllo dough. She doesn’t use a round pan, as is traditional, because a 9-by-13 makes the process easier and works just fine. She simply lays out the phyllo dough and sandwiches the filling in between.

Burek can be frozen either before or after cooking—which means a quick lunch or dinner is at your fingertips. To warm it up, Bea simply heats a pan and places a slice of burek on top. The oily phyllo crisps right up as the filling heats.

What's your favorite savory pastry? Tell us in the comments below.

4 Comments

Alice April 4, 2017
Burek is the ultimate comfort food! Us Slovenes love it too, I assume it was brought here by the Serbs. My favorite is cheese or potato!
 
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Anna F. April 26, 2017
She made a cheese one for me too! It really is decadent comfort food, so good!!!
 
Michele March 29, 2017
Oh yum!! I had the pleasure to live in Serbia for several months, years ago. The food left such an impression on me. The air would fill with the aromas of what was being made and I was perpetually craving what was wafting around, and it has lingered with me for years. I find myself craving the bread, the pickled peppers and so many other things including this pie - which I recall was so delicious with cheese. Definitely going to be making it, thank you so much!!
 
Author Comment
Anna F. March 29, 2017
Thank you for your comment. She showed me how to make the cheese one as well. Soooooo delicious. Glad this took you back to your travels!