Category Archives: Warqa a.k.a. Brik Pastry

Making Warqa a.k.a. Brik Pastry

Paper thin Moroccan warqa, used for bastilla and other pastries, is easy once you get the feel of it. The sheets are thinner than phyllo dough, but make a good substitute for those instances when you’re in the mood to impress party guests with an impromptu “You know I make my own pastry, of course!”

Plus it’s fun to do. Provided you have a large, flat pan to paint the batter on, the only thing you need is a broad brush. A new nylon or polyester paint brush from the hardware store will work just fine. Start by assembling your ingredients. Whisking the dry ingredients together…

…then the wet ingredients…

…and combine them, whisking thoroughly.

The batter should be extremely thin and soupy. When in doubt, add a little more water.

Now then, pour a few inches of water into a Dutch oven or other broad pot. Bring it to a boil.

Place over it a larger, flat, nonstick pan. This 11″ sauté pan is perfect for the job. a griddle pan is also a great solution. But the question that begs to be asked is: why cook this way? The answer is because low heat gelatinizes the starch in the batter (cooks it) without drying it out, thereby making it brittle. These sheets need to be flexible if they’re going to be of any use. An electric griddle set to very low heat would probably also work for this.

So then, when the pan has heated, dip the brush in the batter and apply it using long, curving strokes. Brush lightly so as not to peel away any batter than might cook on contact. On which note, resist the urge to lubricate the pan. That will cause the cooked batter to clump up and flake off.

As the batter cooks, very gently dab/brush extra batter onto any bare spots.

When the sheet looks about like this and is crispy at the edges, it’s ready to pick up. Loosen the edge with a spatula…

…and just lift it off. The rough edges are unavoidable. You can trim them off, but as they are they broadcast to the world that you are a skilled and worldly epicure, do they not? Leave them.

Place the sheet on your stack, lightly painting it with vegetable oil. Wipe any flecks of batter out of the pan with a paper towel and repeat!

When the batter is all used up (you’ll have about 18 sheets) wrap them up in plastic wrap to keep them from drying.

Use them immediately or store them in the fridge if you like for up to five days.

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A Dab Will Do You

When it comes to making ultra-thin sheets of pastry, you can go one of two ways. You can roll, which is the Western way, or you can “dab”, which is the Eastern/North African way. For long ago it seems, pastry makers in the East (probably China) realized that rather than trying to compress a dough to a paper-thin thickness, you could instead dab a moistened ball of dough onto a hot surface to make a film. Cooked, that film could then be lifted off, lubricated and used to make pastry.

Mococcan warqa (also called “brik” or “brick” bread) employs this technique. Traditionally it’s made by dabbing a wet dough ball onto a convex copper plate that’s heated over a low charcoal fire. Since most of us in the Western world lack that equipment, we use a thin batter and brush it onto a non-stick pan that’s heated from below by boiling water. The gear array is different but the effect is very much the same. On the ingredients side, you’ll need:

8 ounces (1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons) high gluten or bread flour
1.5 ounces (1/4 cup) durum flour (all-purpose will do as an alternative)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another, then gently whisk the two mixtures together. The batter should be extremely thin.

Pour 2-3 inches of water into a Dutch oven or other broad pot and bring it to a boil. Place over it a large non-stick sauté pan or griddle.

Using a new nylon or polyester paint brush, brush a film of the batter around onto the un-greased surface of the pan. As the dough cooks, very gently brush or dab batter onto any bare patches. Allow the sheet to cook about 2-3 minutes. When the sheet is pale in color and crisp around the edges, gently pry up the edge with a spatula and lift the sheet off.

Place the sheet on a towel and brush it lightly with vegetable oil. Wipe the pan out and do it again! Stack up the lubricated layers, keeping the stack under the towel. When the batter is all used up, wrap the stack in plastic wrap until ready to use. These will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

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