This recipe is a traditional Bulgarian banitsa. I came across some similar recipes that call it phyllo dough cheese pie, but in essence, it is our Bulgarian banitsa. My mom used to make this banitsa from scratch. However, it takes a very long time to make the dough. Hence, in this recipe, I used store-bought phyllo dough sheets.
This phyllo dough cheese pie banitsa recipe is great for gatherings. I always make it for my kids’ birthday parties as my friends now expect it. When I have time, I try to make 2-3 batches of it so I can send friends with some banitsa at home. This is the kids’ favorite recipe too since they love using their fingers to eat it. I make this recipe for boating rides, picnics, and many other occasions. It is easy to carry around and doesn’t spoil outside the fridge. We also like our phyllo dough pumpkin pie and pumpkin puff pastry pie! These are some options if you are like my husband and get the puff pastry instead of the sheets.
Ingredients for Phyllo Dough Cheese Pie Banitsa
There are few ingredients needed for this delicious banitsa.
Phyllo Dough Sheets
I love Athen’s phyllo dough sheets. I try using them immediately when I buy them because they are much fresher and nicer that way. Also, if I end up storing the phyllo dough sheets in the freezer sometimes the sheets stick together. If that happens to you, no worries. You can use multiple sheets at a time if needed. Also, if the sheets break apart, just do your best to have a layer of phyllo dough. After the banitsa is baked, it is hard to tell that the sheets were torn apart.
When you spread the egg and yogurt filling on top of all the layers, spread it evenly. The places where there is no filling will become crispy. I leave the right and left sides of the banitsa with less spreading because I enjoy eating the crispy phyllo dough sheets. Try and see if you will like it that way.
This is Amazon’s phyllo dough sheets. Please note that Athen’s now changed the package of the phyllo dough sheets so they look a little different from the image below. Also, note that you need the phyllo dough sheets for this recipe, not the shells. When I send my husband to buy me the sheets, he comes back with an open package. I can tell he is triple checking that he is getting the sheets and not the shells!
Bulgarian Feta Cheese
Since this recipe is a traditional Bulgarian banitsa, I strongly recommend using our Bulgarian feta cheese. Yes, you can substitute with other feta cheese, but to feel the authentic Bulgarian banitsa maybe try your best to use Bulgarian feta.
For this recipe, I used 1 1/2 cups of crumbled Bulgarian feta cheese. I don’t really measure the cheese when I make the banitsa. I just put crumbled feta cheese on the layers as you can’t really go that wrong with this recipe. If you prefer more cheese in the banitsa, go for it. Additional feta cheese will make the phyllo dough cheese pie banitsa tastier, but also add some more calories to it. Choose at your own risk (just kidding).
You can find Bulgarian feta cheese in some specialty stores. We buy ours from Sacramento and San Francisco. Below is a link from Amazon.
We use avocado oil to grease the baking dish so the phyllo dough sheets don’t stick to the glass. We love avocado oil because it can withstand higher temperatures without forming cancerous elements that are dangerous to our health. When greasing the pan, make sure you grease the walls on the glass too. It is not a big deal if you forget, but it will make it easier to separate the banitsa from the glass once it is ready to eat.
Filling for the phyllo dough cheese pie banitsa
We use eggs as one of the main ingredients for the banitsa filling. We use 5 eggs for the phyllo dough cheese pie banitsa recipe. Please note that if you use too much of the liquid filling between the layers the banitsa may become soggy. We suggest using 2 tablespoons between layers. If you use multiple sheets at the same time (as opposed to one as shown in the recipe) then adjust the liquid between sheets accordingly. It is faster to make the banitsa if you do more sheets at a time, but it will also compromise the taste and look of it.
Yogurt is used along with the eggs and the baking powder to make the banitsa filling. We love to use our homemade yogurt. It is cheaper to make yogurt at home. You will be surprised how easy it is and it only takes a few minutes of your time. Just follow the link for homemade yogurt and check the process out.
As we explained in the eggs section, using too much liquid between the sheets may result in a squishy pie. If you end up using more yogurt and you are left with extra liquid, just use it for the top layer. Pour all remaining liquid even if it is more than it should be on the top of the pie and bake it that way. Please note, that if you use too little liquid between the sheets, the banitsa will be dry.
Baking soda is used in the filling to raise up the banitsa. Otherwise, the banitsa will remain flat. Please note that if you use too much baking soda, you will be able to taste the baking soda and it is not pleasant.
There is no special equipment needed for making the phyllo dough cheese pie banitsa. Almost any kitchen has a baking dish, utensils, measuring cups, and knives. However, we have included the links to the equipment in case you would like to use the ones we show in the recipe.
Phyllo Dough Cheese Pie Banitsa
- Gather all ingredients
- Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
Put Phyllo Dough Pie Together
- In a 9.5 x 13.5 baking dish (or baking dish that will fit the phyllo dough sheets), add 1 tbsp avocado oil. Spread throughout the baking dish.
- Once the pan is greased, add 2 sheets of phyllo dough.
- The next layer is the yogurt and egg filling. Add about 2 tbsp of the mixture on top of the phyllo dough sheet.
- Iterate feta cheese filling with the egg and yogurt filling until you run out of phyllo dough sheets. Please note that you can spread the egg and yogurt mixture on the phyllo dough sheets with the spoon evenly if you like (see image).
- After the last phyllo dough sheet is used, pour the remaining egg and yogurt filling on top of the pie (banitsa). Spread evenly.
- Cut cheese phyllo dough pie banitsa into 10 pieces.
Bake Phyllo Dough Cheese Pie Banitsa
- Bake the phyllo dough cheese pie banitsa at 375 Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Rotate the banitsa at 180 degrees for even baking. Notice in the picture that the inside of the pie banitsa is darker than the outside.
- Bake for additional 10 minutes until the top layer is golden brown.
- This recipe is a traditional Bulgarian banitsa made from phyllo dough sheets. Some people call it phyllo dough cheese pie.
- You can add more Bulgarian feta cheese to the banitsa.
- If you end up with more egg and yogurt filling at the end, just pour it on top of the banitsa. It is good to use it throughout the layers or the banitsa may be too dry in the middle.
- I bake the banitsa for 35 minutes and rotate it for even baking. If you forget to do that, it is not a big deal. Maybe one of the sides would be darker than the other, but at about 35 minutes of baking the banitsa is almost ready to eat.
- Some people like the banitsa light brown so just reduce the baking to 40 min. My family likes it darker on top and I leave it to bake for 45 minutes to ensure all is baked thoroughly.
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