I love baking and eating filo pastry pies. They are part of the traditional Bulgarian cuisine: we call them banitsa. My grandmother used to make the filo pastry by herself. This is a very elaborate process which I never dared to try. The biggest challenge is to make the filo sheets almost transparent without breaking them. She was doing it quite well. I normally buy filo pastry from the store.
However the beauty of the filo pies with store bought pastry is that they are quick and still tasty. There are so many variations – some are traditional, others not really… Being a fan of the fusion cuisine I already made filo pies with corn and green peas and even with broccoli.
This time it came to my mind to make a filo pie with sesame. Recently I am so obsessed with this seed that I am constantly adding it to my oatmeal breakfast and to my salads. But I realised I prefer it with something salty rather than with sweets. Few days ago I even tried black sesame ice-cream and I wasn’t too impressed. But filo pie with sesame sounds delicious!
I found this recipe which had a link to that one. I decided to give it a try but to change some of the ingredients: just for fun. The experiment was worth.
One thing I love about this pie is the yeast in the filling. It gives an incredible fluffiness to the pastry and a fantastic aroma which reminds me of my childhood and my grandmother’s baking. The sesame on top is a great final touch. This pie is just irresistible!
It is quite easy to prepare and doesn’t even need much time for the leavening process. I think it will become my new favourite cheese filo pie!
The recipe is adapted from Sweet and salty by Irena
400-500 g filo pastry sheets
200 g plain yogurt
50 ml lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
10 g dry yeast (or 25 g fresh)
350 g soft white cheese (feta, cottage, ricotta, etc.)*
90 g butter, melted
20-30 g sesame
* If the cheese is not salty, add 1/2 tbs salt
In a cup combine yeast sugar and milk and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients for the filling.
In a large bowl combine eggs, crumbled cheese, yogurt, butter and the yeast mixture. Mix well.
Grease a 22-24cm pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Cut 2 or 3 long and large strips of parchment paper and arrange them along the sides of the pan.
Divide the filo pastry sheets in 3 parts. Place one sheet on a large cutting board and smear it all around with 1-2 spoons of the mixture. Place another sheet on top. Repeat the procedure until finishing the first part of the filo pastry sheets. Make a roll from the prepared pastry and cut it into pieces slightly lower than the heigh of the pan.
Follow the same process with the other two parts of the filo pastry.
Arrange the pieces in the pan. Pour the leftover filling over and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Let the pie stay for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking it.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Bake the pie until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cover with a tea towel. Let cool for 20-30 minutes before serving it.