Last night, I spent time with a Bosnian lady named Bernarda, who offered to teach me how to make our beloved Balkan cheese pie (called burek in Croatia and pita in Bosnia and Hercegovina). These pies are a staple at weddings, get togethers, and at home with a cup of balkan-style yogurt. They are available at every bakery and even at the afterhours fast food windows, serving just the right amount of grease at 3am.
I took 93 pictures with Bernarda and wrote down every step I could manage because having this recipe down pretty much guarantees me devoted friendships for the rest of my life.
I learned how to make two types of burek. Now you will too.
First up is the deep dish-type burek, made round and sliced into triangular pieces, not to be confused with the rolled burek.
- 250g of ricotta cheese
- 125g-135g of feta cheese, grated
- 7 heaping tbsp of cottage cheese
- 3 eggs
- approximately half a pack of strudel dough, which is thicker than filo pastry (*name brand and buying details below)
- 1 tsp of sea salt
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 3/4 cups of milk (we used homo milk but you can probably use 2% or even 1%)
- drizzled sunflower oil
*the strudel dough we used is from Helen’s Homestyle Food Ltd. in Mississauga and can be purchased at Urban Deli on Davie street in Vancouver.
- Preheat oven to 400F
- In a large bowl, mix three cheeses, eggs, 1 cup of milk and sea salt well
- Butter a deep circular ceramic cooking dish and coat with cooking spray
- Line ceramic dish with strudel dough, leaving corners to hang over the edges of the dish. Add a small square piece at the bottom of the dish (1/4 strudel dough sheet)
- Break strudel dough pieces into quarters, dip into the cheese mixture one at a time and add to dish (see photos below)
- Pat pieces down slightly (not too firmly)
- Intermittently drizzle oil into the dish
- Fill 2/3 of the way up and close with the overhanging strudel dough corners
- Add remainder of milk and all of sour cream to the remaining cheese mixture, mix well and pour over the closed pastry
- Place in oven and let cook until golden. Depending on how good your oven is, it should take 45 minutes to 1.25 hours
Next up is the long and narrow log-shaped pita. Also referred to as my first love. Friends of mine with serious culinary skills get weak in the knees at the mention of it. My old roommates used to wait for me to come home from mom’s at midnight on Sundays knowing I’d be lugging containers full of this stuff. Nobody can deny how comforting and delicious it is. I think what makes it so special is its use of several types of cheese.
- 250g ricotta cheese
- 115g-125g feta cheese, grated
- 2 large tbsp of cottage cheese, strained well
- 1 egg
- 6-10 sheets of filo pastry
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 tbsp of sour cream (you don’t want the mixture to be too liquidy so keep that in mind)
- drizzled sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp flour
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Line baking sheet with foil, coat with cooking spray
- In a large bowl, mix three cheeses, egg, sour cream and salt well. Add flour and stir again.
- Drizzle a little bit of oil on half of a filo sheet, fold remainder over and drizzle oil again
- Add cheese mixture in a single one-inch line at the bottom of the pastry (thicker if you want your pita to be wider)
- Tuck in the sides of the pastry and roll
- Line up on baking sheet
- Drizzle oil on top
- Place in oven until the filo is crispy and golden, about 35 minutes
- Let cool for 10 minutes before devouring