Traditionally maznik is made every “Suro”, for the “Old New Year” celebrated on 14 January (following the Julian calendar). A gold coin (wrapped in foil) is placed into the dough and baked. Each family member is then cut a slice of maznik, the tray is spun three times and the person that finds the coin has a full year of ‘good luck’. It’s a lot of fun and definitely something we all look forward to.My great grandmother, Baba Pera taught mum how to make maznik at the young age of 12. There was no written recipe and no measuring cups, the recipe had been memorized and practiced for generations and passed down to all the females in the family.
It’s likely that maznik dates back to the Turkish Ottomon rule of the Balkans as each country has their own version. In Macedonia, maznik is a national dish, and dear to the hearts (and stomachs) of many. Making it on the other hand is back-breaking stuff and anyone who has attempted it, or has watched it being made knows it’s a labour of love and requires quite a lot of practice. Although it’s hard work, my goodness is it worth it! Handmade filo-like pastry rolled and filled with feta and baked until golden and flaky.
Maznik can be made by rolling (suchenje) or pulling (tegnenje) the dough. Rolling is definitely the more difficult of the two techniques but in my opinion is the tastiest and most delicate.
P.S. I promise to follow this recipe up with a quick ‘Cheats Maznik’ recipe with store bought filo pastry.
Makes 2 large mazniks (or 3 small)
Sponge (yeast mix)
1/2 cup (125ml) lukewarm water
1 (7g) packet dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons flour
1kg 00 plain bread flour, sifted, plus an additional 500g for dusting
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons (60ml) cold water
2 tablespoons (40ml) warm water
2 2/5 cups (600ml) lukewarm water, depending on the weather you may not need to use all of the water
2 1/2 tablespoons (50ml) vegetable oil
2 cups (500ml) vegetable oil (canola or rice bran oil)
500g feta cheese, grated
Sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)
You will need:
- Large bowl (for dough)
- Damp tea towel (to cover the resting dough)
- Clean tablecloth or bench
- Long thin rolling pin (make your own by purchasing a 1.2m length of unfinished dowel from your hardware store and sand until very smooth)
- 2-3 large round trays (16″ pizza trays work well)
- Rectangular baking tray (for resting dough balls)
- 2 dinner plates, dusted with flour (to rest flattened dough)
- 2 medium bowls (1 for dusting flour, the other for grated feta cheese)
- Mug and tablespoon (for drizzling oil)
1) To make sponge, stir water, yeast, sugar and flour in small bowl until smooth (1 minute). Allow to rest (7-10 minutes) or until double in size.
2) Grease round trays with vegetable oil.
3) Sift flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add 3 tablespoons cold water, 2 tablespoons warm water and sponge (yeast mix). Use one hand to combine/mix while the other turns the bowl and combine the mixture (2 minutes). Add 1/3 of the water and mix again (3 minutes), add another third and combine (3 minutes), with the remaining water slowly add small amounts until the dough begins to clump and move as one (5 minutes).
4) Dust tablecloth or bench generously with flour. Place 1/3 of the dough (1/2 if you only have 2 large round trays) onto the surface, clean your hands properly to remove all the wet dough (rubbing with flour works best). Cover the remaining dough in the bowl with a damp tea towel to stop it from drying out. Return to the work surface and dust the top of the dough with flour and gently roll to cover all over, cut into 8 pieces (size of tennis balls) and knead into even balls (knead 20 seconds per ball), place onto an oiled tray, drizzle top with oil. Take the first ball (which will have flattened slightly), dust and knead again into an even ball, flatten using the palm of your hand, flipping 2-3 times and roll out to 20cm in diameter, rest on a flour dusted plate. Repeat with another ball, flattening and similarly rest on another floured plate.
5) Using the flattened dough from the first plate, dust both sides generously, dust the rolling pin and begin to roll out to an even circle (30-40cm in diameter). Dust with flour again, wrap one end of the sheet over the rod and quickly roll while gently pulling the dough, unroll in the opposite direction, i.e. if rolling from the left, when unrolled the rod will end up on the right. Use your rod to gently roll and even out the circle. Dust again and repeat this process another 2-3 times, rolling from left and pulling out to the right. By now the dough sheet should be thinner and larger so it will tear more easily. Dust with flour (concentrating on the edges as they will be stickier), once again wrap one end of the sheet over the rod and quickly roll while gently pulling the dough, unroll in the opposite direction. This time don’t use your rod to roll and re-shape. Repeat this process another 15 times and only dust with flour every 2-3 times or as required (e.g. if the dough sticks) until rolled out to a large even circle (approx. 1m in diameter).
6) Drizzle over oil by dipping your spoon vertically into the oil and quickly removing, then drizzling in a circle motion. Evenly sprinkle with 2 heaped handfuls of feta cheese. Using your fingers gently pick up the edge closest to you and fold over until half way, pick up the opposite side and fold over until just overlapped, drizzle with oil again and gently roll into a long sausage (if rolling on a tablecloth this can also be done by lifting the edge of the tablecloth closest to you and allowing the pastry to naturally fall/roll). Starting in the centre, arrange in an even coil on your oiled round baking tray (in a snail shape).
7) Return to your work area, take one of the balls (which will have flattened slightly), dust and knead again into an even ball, flatten using the palm of your hand, flipping 2-3 times and roll out to 20cm in diameter, rest on your empty flour dusted plate. Take the other rolled dough from your other plate and repeat steps 5 and 6 and continue to do this until the tray has been filled (you will need approx. 6-8 coils).
8) Once you have a full tray of coils, drizzle generously with oil, particularly around the edges and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Allow to rest uncovered for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C.
9) While the maznik is resting prepare your 2nd tray and repeat steps 4 to 8.
10) Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden. Rest for 10 minutes and serve while warm or at room temperature.
- Maznik will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in a hot oven before serving, it tastes almost as good as fresh maznik.
- Check out this video of an expert maznik maker, the technique is slightly different but it will help to give you an idea of how thin each sheet needs to be