Banitsa - Cheese Phyllo Pie. Photography: Shiran Carmel.
בניצה - מאפה גבינות מפילו. צילום: שירן כרמל
Recipe

Banitsa – Cheese Phyllo Pie

This is the traditional Bulgarian cheese phyllo dough pastry. To make it look more festive, form the top sheet of the dough into a spiral shape.

Banitsa, a traditional Bulgarian cheese pie, could easily be mistaken for dishes from around Europe- its savory dairy and phyllo combination resembles Greek cuisine, and the habit of hiding lucky charms (or fortunes) inside calls to mind the Galette de Rois which is eaten in French and Spanish speaking countries around the world to celebrate the Epiphany. Banitsa is traditionally prepared on Christmas and New Years Eve, eaten hot or cold, and is eaten with cold yogurt, ayran, or boza.

Ingredients for Cheese Phyllo

  • ½ cup (120ml) sweet cream
  • 1 package (500 grams) phyllo dough room temperature
  • 2 cups + 1 tablespoon (500 grams) Goat yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) kashkaval cheese cut into small cubes
  • dried oregano, thyme and rosemary to taste
  • olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions

  • 1. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, sweet cream, eggs, herb blend and salt.

  • 2. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Remove a phyllo sheet from the package, spread some olive oil on the upper part of the sheet and line the pan with it.

  • 3. Remove another phyllo dough sheet and tear it into several pieces. Crumple them a little with your hands, dip them in the yogurt mixture and place them in the pan.

  • 4. Sprinkle a small amount of the cheese on top and add another greased dough sheet over that layer.

  • 5. Repeat the process again: pieces of phyllo dough dipped in yogurt and covered with kashkaval cubes.

  • 6. To complete the banitsa, you can add a greased phyllo dough sheet on top. If you want a more impressive finishing touch, like in the photograph, use a pizza wheel to cut some phyllo dough sheets into 1-inch/ 3cm wide strips. Form one of the strips into a spiral shape and then roll the remaining strips around it, one at a time, until it becomes a phyllo spiral equivalent to the diameter of the pan. Place it on top of the banitsa, followed by a few cheese cubes and a small amount of the yogurt mixture.

  • 7. Bake the banitsa at 340F/170ºC for 45 to 60 minutes. You can serve it with yogurt seasoned with a little salt and fresh mint leaves.

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This recipe is courtesy of Hashulchan.

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