While doing my research to find a European destination for this week, I wandered the web from one country to another trying to find a recipe that didn’t include meat or fish for a change.
When I found this recipe, I immediately fell in love! I stumbled upon banitsa, a kind of cheese pastry. Although I love meat, I am also very much attracted to cheese and fish recipes, but if the preparation includes dough like puff pastry, short crust, brick or filo, then we are close to perfection!
Bulgarian banitsa is a specialty that is traditionally eaten for breakfast, although I have eaten mine for lunch with a green salad. It is also traditionally served during Christmas dinner. On that occasion, a coin is hidden (like the trinket placed in Galette des Rois in France) ensuring a prosperous year for the one who finds it.
The original recipe is prepared with cheese, but there are many variations with spinach, squash, pumpkin, cabbage or meat.
- 12 sheets phyllo dough
- 8 tablespoons butter
- ½ lb sirene (Bulgarian cheese) or feta, coarsely crumbled
- ¾ lb Bulgarian yogurt (preferably sheep's milk yogurt)
- 4 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 (10-inch) springform pan
- Whisk yogurt with 4 whole eggs.
- Add cheese, salt and pepper and mix.
- Melt the butter.
Take two sheets of phyllo and brush the top sheet with melted butter.
Superimpose a third sheet on the first two and brush the top with butter.
Turn the three sheets over and then brush the non coated side.
- Divide ¼ of the yogurt, egg and cheese mixture on top of the filo sheets.
- Then roll the whole preparation like a long sausage. Roll lengthwise to get the roll as long as possible.
- Repeat this process 3 more times to get 4 long rolls of three superimposed sheets of filo each.
- Place the springform pan on a baking sheet (or just circle on baking sheet covered with parchment paper).
- Begin by placing the first roll by sticking to the edge of the circle, then add the following forming a snail to the center.
- Beat egg yolk with the remaining melted butter and brush the whole banitsa.
- Bake at 400 F for about 25 minutes.
- The banitsa should be golden.
- It can be eaten either hot, warm or cold.