Samsa is a word originating from Persian “samôse/sambûse”, meaning triangular-shaped pastry. As a kind of pastry, samsa has been known in Anatolia since the 14th century. It is probably one of the pastry dishes which came to Anatolia by way of the Turkic tribes who migrated from Central Asia. A savoury type of samsa has survived until today in the south-eastern region of Anatolia as semsek. Sweet samsa has been part of elite Istanbul cuisine since the Ottoman era. In an Ottoman cookbook published in the 19th century (Housewife/ Ev Kadını, 1882) samsa is described as a kind of baklava soaked in syrup. It was also one of the desserts served in the Ottoman palace. For example, the menu of a banquet served on 3 July 1913 in the Ottoman palace in honour of Sultan Resat includes samsa. In today’s classical Istanbul cuisine, samsa is a kind of multi- flaked pastry filled with walnuts soaked in syrup. However, some families originating from Central Asia, serve samsa without syrup.
Sift the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add olive oil, water, vinegar and butter. Work these ingredients with your fingertips to make a creamy mixture and then mix in a circular motion, drawing in flour from outside. Knead for about 10 or 15 minutes until the dough becomes very smooth and elastic.Fold the dough and cover it with plastic foil. Let it stand for 30 minutes in the fridge.Roll out the dough so that it is 20cm across and brush it with olive oil. Then fold it and put in the fridge again for another 30 minutes. Repeat this step 5 times. Meanwhile, mix the chopped walnuts, cinnamon and sugar with a little amount of water.Once the dough is ready, divide it into two and roll out each piece to 30 cm on a lightly floured surface.Divide the sheet of pastry into 9 square pieces and put inside each square 1 tablespoonful of walnut mixture. Then fold the opposite corners.Put them on a tray and glaze with egg yolk. Bake in a preheated oven (175 °C) for 25-30 minutes.Once the samsas are cooked, sprinkle them with icing sugar and serve hot.