Gibanica – Serbian Cheese Pie

If you ask me to name one recipe that describes my childhood, my answer would definitely be Gibanica (pronounced something like gee-bah-neet-zah). Gibanica – Serbian Cheese Pie is a simple concept made with a filling amongst layers of crunchy filo pastry. In Serbia, and other Balkan countries, Gibanica is served for breakfast, lunch, appetizer and even as a quick dinner. It is such a versatile dish, easy to put together and can be made any time or for any occasion. In our house this dish was served even on festive occasions. It is a pastry that every guest is sure to enjoy! My version of the Serbian Gibanica is a blend of cottage cheese, goat cheese, yogurt, ground pepper, some milk and eggs. It is enclosed between layers of flaky pastry that is baked until golden brown and crunchy!

baked gibanica

GIBANICA – SERBIAN CHEESE PIE ORIGIN

Gibanica is a trademark in Serbian cuisine. You can find this savoury cheese pie in every bakery around Serbia and even in restaurants. Traditionally, Gibanica is popular across the Balkan region and has typically been made with home made phyllo pastry and cows milk cheese. However, it is very common to use store brought filo pastry and to also use of any type of cheese. There are many other versions of this recipe, it is a very versatile which is why nobody seems to make it exactly the same way.

Historically, Gibanica was created under the influence of the Austrian and Turkish cuisines. You can find other versions of this pastry in other countries such as Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Hungary and even as far as Greece and Turkey. It is a pastry that has been made in many households for hundreds of years. In Macedonia and Bulgaria it is called Banica. In Slovenia it is referred to as Prekmurje, and in Croatia it is refereed to as Medimurje Gibanica. Gibanica is also known in Italy where it is more complex and has many more layers with different ingredients.

USING FILO PASTRY

  • Filo pastry is very delicate. Gently unroll the stack of pastry from the packet. Place them on a large chopping board and keep covered with a clean towel until you are ready to use it.
  • Think of filo as if it is a delicate tissue. Gently pull of each sheet of filo pastry as you use it. Keep the remaining filo sheets covered until you are ready to use it.
  • Filo dries out easily once it is exposed to air. Your goal should be to keep the pastry covered with a clean towel and to work fairly quickly when assembling the Gibanica.
serving of gibanica

MAKING THE GIBANICA – SERBIAN CHEESE PIE

There are only two parts to this recipe – the filling and the filo pastry.

Grease a pie / baking dish with unsalted butter and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then add the cottage cheese, crumbed feta, yogurt, some milk, ground pepper and combine.

In the pie / baking dish place three sheets of pastry – one at a time and place them flat. Place a teaspoon of butter in the middle. This will melt during the baking process and will provide some additional fat to give the crust a delicious crunch. On top add three scrunched up pieces of pastry. Then with a ladle add one scoop of the filling. Add three more layers of crunched pastry on top and then another ladle full of the filling. Repeat this process until you have used all of the filling. Add the remaining filo sheets on top covering the whole pie and tucking in all of the ends so that no filling spills out.

Grease the top of the pie with melted butter and place in the oven to bake at 180 for 30 – 35 minutes or until it has turned golden brown. Once the Gibanica is done, turn the oven off. Leave the pie in the oven for a further 10 minutes to settle. This will give the Gibanica a chance to rest in a warm place before being taken out. Then take out of the oven and serve warm. In Serbia this is commonly served with a glass of yogurt.

gibanica on a plate

One thing I love about any traditional recipe is that there is no fancy preparation or difficult skills required. There is nothing better than having a recipe which can be thrown together quickly and enjoyed by everyone. For me, Gibanica is the perfect comfort food!

Gibanica – Serbian Cheese Pie

The Home Harvest by Gordana
Gibanica is a Serbian pastry with cheese that is usually eaten for breakfast or with a meal at lunch or dinner. It is very filling and best eaten when it is freshly served out of the oven. It is a quick and easy recipe to prepare at any time of the week and even for special occasions.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Serbian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 500 g filo pastry
  • 200 g feta
  • 200 g cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • ground pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and grease a pie / baking dish with unsalted butter.
  • In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then add the cottage cheese, crumbed feta, yogurt, some milk and ground pepper and combine.
  • In the pie / baking dish place three sheets of pastry – one at a time and place them flat.
  • In the middle add a teaspoon of butter. This will melt during the baking process and will provide some additional fat to give the crust a delicious crunch.
  • On top add three scrunched up pieces of pastry.
  • Then with a ladle add one scoop of the filling.
  • Add three more layers of crunched pastry on top and then another ladle full of the filling.
  • Repeat this process until you have used all of the filling.
  • Add the remaining filo sheets on top covering the whole pie and tucking in all of the ends so that no filling spills out.
  • Grease the top of the pie with melted butter and place in the oven to bake at 180 for 30 – 35 minutes or until it has turned golden brown.
  • The Gibanica is best served warm and with a glass of yoghurt.

Notes

  • I prefer to use goat feta, but any type of feta cheese can be used.
gibanica in the pie dish

This recipe could be a great breakfast for the whole family. If you are short for time at dinner you can whip this recipe up in no time and have it served with some steamed vegetables. If you cut it into smaller pieces it can also serve as an appetizer.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know how this recipe turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thehomeharvest.