This delicious Sesame Banitsa is a nice and easy svoury pie made of filo pastry, feta cheese or similar and sesame seeds. It is a wonderful variation of the traditional Bulgarian banitsa with cheese but is made with yeast.
What is Banitsa
Banitsa is a filo (or phyllo) pastry pie, typical in Bulgaria. In fact many banlkan countries have similar pies which normally vary in terms of fillings and also in terms of how the pastry is being arranged.
When I was a child, my grandmother used to make the filo pastry by herself. This is a very elaborate process which I never dared to try. I always buy filo pastry from the store.
Filo pies made with store-bought pastry are quick and easy and still very tasty. I love experimenting with filo. Being a fan of the fusion cuisine I already made pies with corn and green peas and even with olives and with broccoli.
How did I come up with this recipe
At some time during my maternity I was so obsessed with sesame that I was constantly adding it to everything I ate. So at one point I decided it was time to bake a Sesame Banitsa.
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 as per my preference. The experiment was worth it.
How to make a Sesame Filo Pie
It is quite easy: you need to make a filling with the cheese, yeast and all wet ingredients. Then you spread the filling on the filo pastry sheets, which you need to make into three rolls. Cut the rolls in slices as high as the baking pan and arrange them on the bottom of the pan. Spread the remaining filling on top and some sesame. Bake and enjoy!
One thing I love about this pie is the yeast in the filling. It gives a pleasant 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! Also it is quite easy to prepare and doesn’t even need much time for the leavening process.
What kind of cheese you need for this pie
As for all other Banitsa recipes you would find in this blog, even though it calls originally for Bulgarian white cheese, you can use also Feta, Cottage or Ricotta. I have made banitsa in many places around the world with ingredients available locally and it was always a success.
I hope you will like this recipe as much as I do! Let me know in the comments what you think!
Sesame Filo Pie
- 15 oz/ 400 g filo pastry sheets
- ⅞ cup/ 200 g plain yogurt
- ¼ cup/ 50 ml lukewarm milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoon/10 g dry yeast, or 25 g fresh
- 12 oz/ 350 g soft white cheese, feta, cottage, ricotta, etc.*
- 3 eggs
- 90 g butter, melted
- 3 tbs/ 25 g sesame seeds
- 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 8-9 inch/ 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.
- Count the filo pastry sheets and divide them in 3 parts. If you can't divide the number by 3 it is ok to have one part with 1 sheet less or more.
- Place one sheet on a large cutting board and spread 1-2 tablespoon of the mixture all around it. Place another sheet on top. Repeat the procedure until finishing the first part.
- Roll up the stacked and filled sheets. Cut the roll into equally large pieces, slightly lower than the heigh of the pan (measure it first).
- Follow the same process with the other two parts of the filo pastry.
- Arrange the small rolls all around the pan. It is ok if you have hollow parts between them: the pastry will expand during baking.
- 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 at a warm place before baking it.
- Preheat oven to 400° F/ 200° 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.
- If the cheese is not salty, add ½ tbs salt
- The recipe is adapted from Sweet and salty by Irena