When I decided to travel to Armenia, I saw this opportunity as an attempt to reconcile with these paper-thin dough sheets: filo (or phyllo).
I have rarely worked filo in my “family cooking career” mainly because of their fragility as well as numerous failed attempts on my part.
In Armenia, they say that these sheets are so thin you could almost read a newspaper through it. That tells you the number of sheets that went from my countertop to the trash before even getting stuffed!
I always wondered how some filo-based pastries could come out of the oven all “wrinkled” when they are so smooth and uniform before cooking. Well, I quickly realized that it could not happen by itself and this is what attracted me to this recipe. I even admit that I was very amused by the various online tutorials I watched.
In fact, if I chose to cook boorma, which means “golden twist”, it is mainly because of the “stick technique”. A simple stick helps to roll and fold the fragile filo sheet while twisting it without breaking it. I can assure you that I did not fail once! I have to say that I was pleasantly entertained like a child with his first toy.
This toy is nothing more than a vulgar wood broomstick that I bought from a hardware store and that I had cut with an ax to the appropriate size. In addition to being fun to bake, boormas are a delicacy with refinement.
Until today, I only knew Armenia from Charles Aznavour and his magnificent song repertoire but now I can say that I also know the amusing “stick technique” that finally allows this filo dough to make its comeback in my fridge.
Recipe of Boorma
Ingredients (for 16 pieces)
- 8 sheets of filo dough
5 oz finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, clarified (made from 8 tablespoons of butter)
5 oz pistachios
For sugar syrup
- 1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 wooden stick or the handle of a wooden spoon
– 1 soft bristle brush (not a silicone brush that would be too hard for filo dough which is quite fragile)
Cut the butter into pieces. It is important that these pieces are all the same size so that the butter melts evenly and does not burn.
Melt the butter over low heat. Pour into a container.
Wait about 10 minutes. Using a large spoon, remove all whey, i.e. the foam that forms on top.
Roast pistachios in a small dry skillet on low heat for about 10 minutes. Chop only after roasting.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a baking pan or casserole dish with parchment paper.
Line countertop with parchment paper.
Take a sheet of filo and brush slightly half of the area with butter, without pressing with the brush. Fold the sheet in half to form a rectangle.
Mix nuts and cinnamon. Lightly sprinkle the dough with this mixture.
Place the wooden stick at the bottom of the filo sheet (narrow side) and wrap loosely in order to obtain a roll of dough around the stick.
Wrinkle the dough starting from the end and tightening toward the middle.
Remove the stick. The roll of dough should be wrinkled. Using a sharp knife, cut the two to get a couple of cakes. Place each cake in pan and cover with fabric to prevent the dough from drying out. Also cover the filo sheets that are waiting so they do not dry out. Repeat the process with the remaining 7 sheets.
Bake for 20 minutes until the cakes are golden. Prepare the sugar syrup while the cakes are in the oven. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil until the syrup begins to thicken.
Remove from heat. While stirring, pour the lemon juice and orange blossom water. Immediately put back on the fire and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool a bit. Pour syrup generously over the cakes as they come right out of the oven.
Sprinkle each cake with a little pistachio.