Banitsa - Bulgarian Cheese Pastry
Banitsa is a delicious savory and flaky Bulgarian pastry. It's layers of buttery phyllo dough encasing a delicious cheese mixture. Sirene is a Bulgarian sheep cheese that is tangy and absolutely delightful. If it's not attainable swap with feta cheese. Straining the yogurt creates a thicker yogurt cheese, if you have access to labneh that is what you are making and you can skip the straining step. Onions are non traditional but I love them so I add them to mine.
1 box phyllo phyllo dough ( Only 1 roll needed)
2 c. plain yogurt
12 oz. sirene cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. salt
2 finely chopped green onions, optional
1/4 tsp. white pepper
12 Tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375.
Line one large 14-inch cake pan or two 9-inch cake pans with tin foil and brush with butter.
Place the greek yogurt in cheesecloth and hang from a cabinet over the sink for 12 hours.
In a bowl stir together the strained yogurt, the sirene cheese, the egg yolk, the salt, the onion, and the pepper.
Remove the packaging from the phyllo and cover with a lightly damp cloth. Take a sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with butter and top with a second sheet of phyllo, butter, and then a third sheet of phyllo.
On one side of the sheet of phyllo, one of the longer sides, spread 3 tablespoons yogurt and cheese filling. Roll the phyllo as tightly as you can so you have a long roll of phyllo encasing the filling. Take the long roll of filling and twist it in to a circle and place in the center of prepared pan. Continue stacking three sheets of dough and filling with the cheese mixture. Roll and then wrap the new rolls around the circle in the middle until the pan is full, tucking them in the sides as needed.
Brush the top with butter. Bake at 375 for 40 - 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Cut in to wedges and serve.