Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian pastry dish and it is a symbol of Bulgarian cuisine and traditions. For Christmas, Bulgarians prepare banitsa with lucky charms in it (like coins or small dogwood branches) or with happy wishes written on small pieces of paper.
“The tradition of the banitsa brings the whole family together and everyone is looking forward to discovering the luck that the banitsa will bring them. The belief is that this luck will be with you throughout the New Year.”
– TIHOMIR STOYTCHEV, AMBASSADOR OF BULGARIA
🇧🇬 Bulgaria: Banitsa
- 1 lb Phyllo dough pastry sheets
- 14 oz Plain whole milk yogurt
- 6 Eggs
- 0.5 Cups Melted butter
- 1 lb Crumbled white brine cheese
- Dogwood sticks for wishes
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees, brush melted butter all over bottom and sides of a baking pan.
- Mix eggs, cheese and yogurt in a bowl, combine and stir ingredients well.
- Put 2 sheets of phyllo dough down in the buttered pan and brush over with melted butter.
- Sprinkle some of the pre-prepared mixture of eggs, yogurt and cheese and top with 2 more sheets.
- Continue to repeat the process until all of the mixture is done, then cover with 2 sheets. The last row should have the phyllo dough pastry sheets. Pour the remaining butter on the sheets and spread it well with a brush, to grease the crusts.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden.
- Once the banitsa is done, spray it with some water and cover it with a towel to let it cool down. Covering it lets the steam soften the phyllo dough pastry sheets.
- On small pieces of paper write wishes, which should be rolled on sticks of dogwood and placed randomly on the pastry. Every good luck wish should go with each slice when served. (The dogwood branches are important because they are a symbol of health and longevity in the Bulgarian traditions). Wishes may include happiness, health, or success throughout the New Year. Traditionally, lucky charms could also be put into the pastry. These charms may be coins or small symbolic objects.