Prep. time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
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.
- Beat the eggs with the yogurt until smooth.
- Crumble the sirene and mix into the egg-yogurt mixture. Season with pepper.
- Take two sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter and place a third sheet on top. Brush again with butter.
- Turn over and brush the unbuttered side.
- Spread one-quarter of the mixture on the pastry and roll up longwise to form a long sausage shape.
- Repeat the operation three more times to form four long cylinders, each made of three stacked phyllo sheets.
- 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.
- Beat the egg yolk in the remaining butter-oil mixture. Brush onto the top of the banitsa.
- Bake in a preheated 180° - 200° C/350° - 400° F oven until golden, about 30 minutes.
Photo : ID 62252000 / Ivan Mateev / MSCOMM
Hints & Tips