Each year my baba (grandmother) makes us a birthday dish, we can choose from any of her specialties, but every year for as long as I can remember I have requested ‘pitulici so sirenje’. The light and fluffy dough is a perfect match with the salty cheese…yum!
They’re great when eaten warm or at room temperature. If there are any leftovers you’ll need to pop them in the fridge. They’ll keep in the fridge for a few days and you can even freeze them – I then blitz them in the microwave for a few seconds until the cheese is just warm and quickly devour.
Like most village recipes I know there are lots of variations (e.g. a sugar coated version) but this recipe is based on my baba’s and we all think she’s an expert, so I feel privileged in sharing this recipe and promise you wont be disappointed.
Fluffy dough mix
Ready for stuffing
Sponge (yeast mix)
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon of dried yeast (or 1 x 7g satchel)
1/4 cup (60ml) lukewarm water
1 3/4 cups (200gm) plain white bread/pizza flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon (20ml) rakia* (a Macedonian spirit, replace with vodka or a similar white spirit)
1 cup (250ml) soda water
Vegetable oil for shallow frying (approx. 500ml)
120g crumbled Bulgarian sheep’s or goat’s milk white cheese (available from some major supermarkets and most delis, replace with regular feta if unavailable)
1) In a small bowl combine yeast, flour, lukewarm water and mix well until smooth (it should have a slurry consistency). Allow to stand in a warm spot for 10 minutes, or until double in size.
2) Meanwhile sift flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
3) In a medium bowl whisk egg, add rakia, soda water and whisk until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes), then pour into the well, along with the yeast mix. Whisk until there no bubbles and the mixture begins to form ribbons (7-10 minutes).
Note: Be prepared for the whisking as it’s a bit of a work out).
4) Allow the dough mix to rest uncovered in a warm spot for 30 minutes. To help the dough rise during cooler weather, place over a smaller bowl of hot water to create a bain marie (this is optional).
5) After 30 minutes the mixture should double in size and have lots of bubbles on the surface. Heat vegetable oil in a medium frying pan (approximately 3cm deep) on low-medium heat.
6) While the oil is heating, gently whisk the dough to evenly distribute the air (1 minute). Grab a tablespoon, a teaspoon, a plate to rest them on (as you’ll make a bit of a mess) and a tray with kitchen paper, or a cake rack to drain the pitulici on once they are cooked.
7) Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of the dough in the oil, if it gently sizzles it’s ready. Coat both spoons with the hot oil, use the lager spoon to scoop up some of the dough mix and use the teaspoon to hold the dough in place and gently drop into the oil (this takes a little practice and the first couple may be a little messy but you’ll get better with each one). Quickly repeat the process being careful not to overcrowd the pan. The pitulici should be organic in shape and approximately 7cm in diameter (you don’t want them too big). Turn over when you notice little bubbles appear on the surface (similar to when making pancakes), fry on the other side for a further 2 minutes until lightly golden in colour (if they brown too quickly your oil is too hot), lift out and drain on kitchen paper or rack.
8) While the pitulici are draining crumble the cheese into a small bowl. Cut each pitulica 1/2 open to create a little pocket (similar to pocket bread) and stuff with a tablespoon of crumbled cheese. (If you are making sweet pitulici leave whole and coat with caster sugar while warm).
9) Arrange on a plate and serve immediately as meze (appetizer) or cover with foil and keep at room temperature for up to 2 hours until your guests arrive.
* Rakia is believed to lighten the dough and decrease the amount of oil absorbed while frying.
Tip: To reuse the oil, allow to cool then strain trough a fine sieve and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.Pin It