Paula Wolfert introduced North African pastry leaves to Americans using the Moroccan name for them: warka. Over the years we've received a lot of emails from people who had trouble finding warka pastry leaves in the U.S. However, most importers of North African pastry leaves are usually French companies that use the Algerian name: brik (also spelled “brick”). Readers would have had much better luck searching for feuilles de brick (or brik)
Brik pastry leaves are used by quite a few French chefs, such as Joël Robuchon for his langoustines en papillote. Zen Can Cook offers a detailed explanation of langoustines wrapped in brik pastry sheets on his blog. Obviously, the bulk of the value for Robuchon's $18 preparation are in the quality of the langoustines he uses, the presentation, and, well, he is Robuchon. But there are special qualities to brik pastry sheets that make them incomparable to any other type of wrapper.
Brik pastry sheets fry or bake up into thin, shatteringly crisp shells unlike any other type of pastry wrapping. Traditionally, brik pastry leaves are made by tapping dough onto a large pan, a decidedly time consuming and specialized skill that is mastered by relatively few cooks. These days, North Africans are more likely to purchase factory made pastry leaves or utilize a newer method of brushing a thin batter onto a crepe pan. We like Sofra Brick brand, which is available to the trade via Chef's Warehouse. Consumers can purchase then in packs of two on Amazon.
The most well known uses for brik pastry sheets are pastilla and breakfast briks stuffed with eggs. But they are used to make any number of savory or sweet pastries that are rolled into cigars, folded into triangles or half-moons. We'll save our elaborate pastilla recipe for cooler months. For now, we offer two easy recipes using brik pastry leaves: one savory and one sweet.
Brik a l'oeuf (egg brick)
From: Farid Zadi
Notes: Feuilles de brik are packaged between layers of wax paper to prevent them from sticking to each other and from drying out once the package is opened. Beginners should work with one pastry sheet at a time, unpeeling them as needed. The key to making briks stuffed with eggs is to have all the stuffing ingredients prepped, cooking utensils on hand, and to fry at a relatively low temp. Egg briks should cook long enough for the egg whites to set, while the yolk is barely poached. One brik is considered a serving for breakfast, but we know people who can eat five or six of them in a single sitting. We'll give you quantities for one egg brik, but you can multiply the recipe for as many servings as you want. Remember to work very quickly once the egg has been placed on the pastry sheet, since liquid ingredients will quickly dissolve feuilles de brik. You should fold the brik immediately and place it in the hot oil within seconds.
1 sheet feuilles de brik
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley or cilantro
1 teaspoon chopped capers
2 tablespoons olive packed tuna
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon harissa (optional)
lemon wedges for garnish
Oil for frying (peanut, corn oil or grape seed oil)
1. Fill a saute pan 1/3 full of oil and pre-heat over medium-high heat to approximately 350 degrees F. Reduce the heat until the flames are just touching the bottom of the pan.
2. Place a sheet of feuilles de brik on a large dinner plate, sprinkle herbs and capers onto the center of the pastry sheet. Crack the egg and place on top of the other ingredients, add a teaspoons of harissa, if desired. Fold the edges over to form a square parcel, invert the parcel onto the palm of your hand, carefully place it into the hot oil, folded side down.
3. Use the spoon to baste the top of the brik with hot oil, 3 times is enough to cook the top enough so that that egg doesn't seep through the pastry sheet after the brik is turned.
4. The brik is ready to turn when the eggs whites are opaque, approximately 3 minutes. Yes, you should be able to see this through the pastry sheet. Carefully turn the brik with tongs or slotted spoon, and cook the other side for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Egg briks should be served immediately.
Cigares aux amandes (almond cigars)
Notes: There are many versions of this recipe, but the most basic components are ground almonds, sugar, and brik pastry sheets; honey or syrup are optional; and they can be baked or fried. We prefer baked cigars, since they freeze and reheat in the oven very well.
1 packet of feuilles de brik
2 cups ground almonds (blanched or unblanched)
1 cup granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the ground almonds and sugar in a bowl. Mix well.
2. Cut the pastry sheets into quarters. Brush pastry sheet with clarified butter, place 2 tablespoons of almond sugar mixture on the sheet in the form of a log and fold into a cigar (or egg roll). Bake for 15 minutes.