Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie
6 - 8 servings
“Pita and yoghurt, please!” is the most common order that can be heard in the early mornings of busy Serbian bakeries. I too have often been the person making this order. Pita, also known as pie, is a filled pastry made in homes and bakeries around Serbia and other countries across the Balkans. Between the layers of dough, pitas are most commonly made with cheese, minced meat, greens, or baked without any stuffing at all. There are also sweet versions of pita made with apples, walnuts, or pumpkin. This recipe is representative of how I re-create the Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie at home while living in New Zealand. The filo pastry for this recipe is stuffed with sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs and some crumbed feta. It takes very little effort to prepare and makes a great appetizer, snack, brunch or side dish.
Pita, gibanica or other variations such as burek are a trademark in Serbian cuisine. There is no bakery or household across the Balkans that does not serve up a savory or sweet pita. A Serbian Pita is a quicker alternative to a traditional burek, served on festive occasions, or as a comforting family snack. In Serbia, the dish is eaten as breakfast, dinner, appetizer and snack. It is also often served at traditional events such Christmas, Easter or a Slava.
Asides from the popular Cheese Gibanica that was made often in our household, there is a meat pita (also known as burek), pita with potatoes (krompirusa), pita with spinach or silverbeet (zeljenak), pita with apples, pumpkin, walnuts and oddly enough a pita with nothing, just plain pastry. Yes, that is a thing. Traditionally, many women have made their dough from scratch, I have recently learned to make a homemade pastry from scratch and while it is amazing, the process is time consuming. For that reason, ready made phyllo does the trick.
The recipe for this Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie is prepared using sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs and crumbed feta. You can serve this dish as an appetizer or snack. Do not be afraid to serve a Serbian Pita for breakfast, lunch or dinner with yoghurt to experience how this dish is enjoyed amongst the Serbians.
The filo pastry
Filo, fillo or phyllo is a very thin dough used for making a variety of pastries such as the famous baklava, pitas and bureks. Working with filo can be delicate business as it dries out very easily once it has been exposed to air. Imagine filo pastry to be a very delicate piece of paper. You need to be very careful but also quick so that the filo does not dry out and become crusty.
- Gently unroll the pack of filo sheets as they are very delicate and can break or dry out very easily.
- When working with filo, keep it covered with a wet, clean cloth. Work relatively quickly once it is opened.
- Prepare all of the other ingredients prior to opening the filo pastry pack. Have the baking dish ready as well.
- Only take the dough sheets out of the packet as needed and keep them covered otherwise.
For this Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie recipe you will need sour cream, cottage cheese, two beaten eggs, crumbed feta, some oil and melted butter for brushing. You will also need one large bowl to combine the sour cream, cottage cheese and the two eggs. The crumbed, feta cheese is also sprinkled over the pita. The oil and the melted butter are for greasing the layers of the phyllo sheet as well as the pita before it goes into the oven.
Putting it all together
Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie is usually rolled and then coiled into one big circle or into small spirals. You can bake a pita in a round dish or as single rolled pitas on a flat baking dish. I have a recipe for the Serbian Gibanica which requires similar ingredients, but the method is different. Pita is really defined by being rolled into spirals or being baked as small, individual pieces.
For this Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie, simply layer three sheets of phyllo one on top of the other. Then, grease with a little vegetable oil and spread three spoonful’s of the sour cream, cottage cheese and egg mixture. Finally place a handful of crumbed feta on the end closes to you. Shape into a roll starting from the edge closest to you and working upwards. Place each rolled pita into a round baking dish until you get a round shape. This step is like placing puzzle pieces together until one spiraled circle is formed. Grease the finished pita with generous amount of melted butter and bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes.
Unlike the popular Gibanica, pitas are a different method of preparing a savory treat at home. The rolled shape of the pita gives the entire dish a different texture, crunch with a delicious cheesy filling. You can serve pitas with some fresh vegetables, dried meats, ham or a nice salad.
Did you make this recipe?
I hope that you enjoy making this delicious Serbian Cheese Pita / Pie. It really is a taste of the Serbian cuisine 😊. Feel free to leave a rating or a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts. You can also find me over on @bitemykitchen___.
|500g phyllo pastry|
|200 g sour cream|
|200g cottage cheese|
|2 whole eggs|
|150g feta cheese|
|40 ml vegetable oil|
|40g melted butter|