In some parts of the world, few foods inspire the near-religious devotion given to burek. The much-loved pastry, made from tissue-thin layers of filo dough and stuffed with fillings such as ground lamb, or ricotta and fetta, has roots in the Ottoman Empire. But it also plays a starring role in breakfast rituals across the Balkans and Central Asia. At Supreme Bakery, a Liverpool pastry shop helmed by Macedonia-born Mark Delevski, the burek symbolises a shared sense of culinary identity and proves that age-old eating traditions are alive and well.
“Traditionally, burek is a breakfast or brunch food and you would have it with buttermilk and maybe a little bit of salad,” says Delevski. “[My family] bought Supreme Bakery nine years ago and because I’ve always had an interest in food, I decided to take it on myself. Over the years, bakers have taught us, and we’ve had different people work – not just from Macedonia but Serbians, Albanians. Everybody puts their own little twist on it.”
Like any food that’s a cultural staple, the art of baking bureks is subject to a litany of questions (how many layers? Sweet or savoury?). Delevski (pictured below) says his own bureks are substantial.
“We use less oil than most other burek makers so people who don’t like their bureks too oily enjoy it,” he says. “Some people make them with less layers, but I make them with four – I make mine as big as possible.”
Then there’s the matter of fillings. Supreme Bakery hews to its target market – the Macedonian, Serbian and Croatian communities that live in the neighbourhood.
“They love ricotta and feta cheese as well as the beef mince and apple and cinnamon bureks,” says Delevski. “Sometimes, [my customers] are fasting because of their religion and can’t eat meat and cheese so we have other burek options available during those periods. And that's why we have potato or pumpkin or sour cherry.”
But Delevski says that the ricotta and feta burek is a firm favourite. He attributes this to the quality of his cheese.
“People from all over Sydney and Newcastle order from us and when they order, they want ricotta and fetta,” he laughs. “The quality of the ricotta is the most important thing. We have this great supplier in Wetherill Park called Monte Fresco Cheese. They basically make fresh ricotta every single day.”
Supreme Bakery also specialises in lepinja, a fluffy bread that’s often served alongside a type of ground meat kebab/sausage called cevapi orcevapcici, another culinary fixture in the Balkans.
“Whenever somebody has a cevapcici barbecue, they'll have the soft lepinja bread,” he says. “You slice it open, [serve] with some onions and ajvar, and that's a pretty traditional dish from our countries.”
The bakery also sells other bread loaves and rolls (including traditional pogaca, above, served for special occasions such as saint's days), cakes and croissants, but for Delevski, who’s recently opened a new outpost of the bakery in Dee Why, under the banner The Burek Guy, bureks are the main event.
“There was a community in Dee Why that wanted our bureks, and we found a European supermarket, PB Euromart, and now we've partnered together,” he says.
“Basically, we’re just trying to expose as many people in general to bureks [as we can.]”
They’re spreading burek’s feel-good factor another way too: for every burek sold, the bakery makes a donation to B1G1, a not-for-profit initiative with more than 2600 member businesses around the world, together supporting a range of causes and charities.
Shop 2, 166 Macquarie Street, Liverpool
Mon to Fri 7am–4.30pm
The Burek Guy
Shop 3/1 Redman Rd, Dee Why
Mon to Fri 8.30am–6pm
Closed public holidays
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