Banitsa - Bulgarian cheese pastry Recipe
Banitsa - Bulgarian cheese pastry
Flavors of Bulgaria
Total time: 1hr to 2hr

Prep. time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy
Chef's Note

Banitsa is a usually savory pastry, made with sirene cheese (1), eggs and milk, and served for breakfast. It can also be made with spinach, cabbage or meat, and sometimes in a sweet version with squash or pumpkin, nuts, sugar and cinnamon.

It may be accompanied with yogurt or a glass of ayran, a yogurt-based beverage.

For Christmas Eve, Bulgarian banitsa holds a special role, when little dogwood branches with buds are added - they are drawn to foretell the household's future and the family's health and prosperity in the coming year. 

What is sirene?
It's a Bulgarian white cheese, related to feta, known as sirene in Bulgaria, Macedonia and other Balkan countries. Made from sheep's milk, it is a little saltier and creamier than Greek feta, with a mild yogurt taste.  

For 6 servings

- 12 phyllo sheets
- 250 g sirene or feta
- 300 g plain yogurt
- 4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 100 g melted butter mixed with 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (or half and half)
- salt (if using feta cheese) and pepper
  1. Beat the eggs with the yogurt until smooth.
  2. Crumble the sirene and mix into the egg-yogurt mixture. Season with pepper.
  3. Take two sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter and place a third sheet on top. Brush again with butter.
  4. Turn over and brush the unbuttered side.
  5. Spread one-quarter of the mixture on the pastry and roll up longwise to form a long sausage shape.
  6. Repeat the operation three more times to form four long cylinders, each made of three stacked phyllo sheets.
  7. Oil a round cake pan with a brush. Place the stuffed pastries end to end in the pan, starting at the outside and forming a snail shape. 
  8. Beat the egg yolk in the remaining butter-oil mixture. Brush onto the top of the banitsa.
  9. Bake in a preheated 180° - 200° C/350° - 400° F oven until golden, about 30 minutes. 
More recipe ideas

Photo : ID 62252000 / Ivan Mateev / MSCOMM 

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