Banitsa: A Step-by-Step Guide

Banitsa is a famous Bulgarian pastry, traditionally enjoyed hot and fresh out of the oven for breakfast. It is a versatile dish that can be filled with various ingredients such as spinach, eggs, chicken, beef, and condensed milk, but it is most commonly made with cheese. Here’s a detailed guide to making this delicious pastry at home.

Món ăn vặt Châu Âu: Banitsa ẩm thực Bulgaria

Ingredients:

500 grams of phyllo dough
400 grams of Bulgarian feta cheese (or a mix of feta and ricotta)
4 eggs
200 ml of plain yogurt
100 ml of milk
50 ml of vegetable oil (or melted butter)
1 teaspoon of baking soda


Salt to taste
Optional fillings: spinach, cooked chicken, ground beef, or a drizzle of condensed milk for a sweet variation

Instructions:

    Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
    Prepare the Cheese Filling:

    In a large mixing bowl, crumble the Bulgarian feta cheese.
    Add the eggs and mix well.
    Stir in the yogurt, milk, and vegetable oil (or melted butter).
    Add the baking soda and a pinch of salt. Mix until well combined.
    If you’re using additional fillings like spinach, chicken, or beef, make sure they are cooked and drained of any excess liquid before adding to the mixture.

    Prepare the Phyllo Dough:

    Lay out the phyllo dough on a clean surface. Phyllo dough can dry out quickly, so it’s helpful to keep it covered with a damp cloth while you work.
    Take one sheet of phyllo dough and lightly brush it with oil or melted butter.

    Assemble the Banitsa:

    Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture evenly over the brushed phyllo sheet.
    Roll the sheet loosely into a log.
    Place the rolled sheet into a greased baking dish, starting from the edge and working your way inward in a spiral shape.
    Repeat the process with the remaining phyllo sheets and cheese mixture, continuing the spiral pattern until the dish is filled.

    Bake the Banitsa:

    Once assembled, brush the top of the Banitsa with a little more oil or melted butter.
    Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

    Serve:

    Remove the Banitsa from the oven and let it cool slightly before cutting.

    Serve warm, as Banitsa is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven.

Tips:

For a Spinach and Cheese Banitsa: Sauté fresh spinach until wilted, drain excess liquid, and mix with the cheese filling.
For a Meat-Filled Banitsa: Cook and season ground beef or chicken, drain any excess fat, and add to the cheese mixture.
For a Sweet Banitsa: Add a layer of condensed milk before rolling the phyllo dough for a delightful sweet treat.

Banitsa is not only a comforting and delicious breakfast but also a symbol of Bulgarian culinary tradition. Enjoy making this versatile pastry and share it with family and friends!