Difficulty: Labor Intensive
Pronounced GHEE-bah-neet-sah, gibanica is one of the most popular pies to be found in Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, and other regions of the old Yugoslavia. Variants of this rich cheese strudel are found in Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, and Syria. This recipe uses phyllo dough and cottage cheese to replace the crumbly white cheese used in Serbia. Depending on who’s making it and for what reason, gibanica can be savory or sweet. As a savory, one mixes a copious amount of white cheese and kaymak, a kind of thick cream, with eggs and layers them between multiple buttered layers of phyllo sheets. For the kaymak, I substitute a mixture of thick yogurt, ricotta cheese, and sour cream. There is a variation called guzvara where the phyllo dough is dipped in the filling and crumpled in the pan, hence the name guzvara, which means “crumpled.” The sweet version might contain poppy seeds and walnuts. This is the savory version.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours
6 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds large-curd cottage cheese, creamed with a whisk
1 cup kaymak (for a substitute, see Note below)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound phyllo dough, defrosted according to package instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and mix thoroughly. Add the cottage cheese and kaymak and combine.
3. Lightly brush a 12 x 9 x 2 1/2-inch baking casserole with melted butter. Place 2 sheets of phyllo pastry in the casserole and lightly brush each sheet with melted butter. Spread about 2/3 cup of the cheese filling on top. Repeat with 2 sheets of phyllo and 2/3 cup cheese, buttering each sheet and continuing until all the phyllo and cheese is used up, ending with 2 sheets of phyllo. Tuck in ends, if necessary. Brush with remaining butter. Bake until golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let stand for 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.
is a kind of thick cream and can be replaced with 1 cup of sour cream or a
mixture of 6 tablespoons ricotta cheese, 6 tablespoons sour cream, and 4
tablespoons labna (very thick
strained yogurt also called lubny).