Croatian Štrukli: Steamed and Baked Cheese Pies

Štrukli is a wonderful main course that you can accompany with a salad of raw, steamed or roasted vegetables. It is also ideal for picnics and the ultimate finger food for parties. It freezes well, so bake more and store for a quick meal or snack.


Serves 6-8 (about two dozen pieces)

Phyllo pastry:
4 cups bread or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing the phyllo
3 tablespoons vodka (optional)
2/3 cup water or more, as needed
Cornstarch for rolling the phyllo

3 cups crumbled Ricotta
3 cups crumbled Feta cheese
1 cup thick (Greek) yogurt
3 large eggs
1-3 teaspoons Maraş pepper or a good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (plenty of freshly ground black pepper works as well)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried Greek oregano (optional)

1 1/2 cups sour cream or thick yogurt with 2-3 tablespoons of milk
1 large egg

Make the phyllo:
Place the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. With the motor running add the vinegar, olive oil and vodka, if using, then add just enough water to make a soft dough. Let the dough rest in the processor for 15 minutes. Process the dough for 3 minutes longer, or until it is smooth and slightly elastic. Remove and let rest, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Make the filling: In a bowl whisk together the cheeses, the yogurt and the eggs.


Roll the phyllo: On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough briefly, until it is smooth and very elastic, adding a little more flour if it is sticky. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Cover 2 of them with plastic wrap. With a long rolling pin, on a large working surface roll out the dough as thin as possible, dusting the board and the dough often with cornstarch to prevent it from sticking to the pin or table.You need to make a 25-inch round, thin sheet. It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Prepare a double steamer. You can also fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and place a basket or colander inside.

Brush the phyllo sheet with olive oil and stretch it a little to make it oval. Spread one third of the filling evenly over the phyllo, leaving a 1 inch margin from the edge. Sprinkle with pepper and oregano, if you like.


Fold the phyllo on the two longer sides of the oval over the filling. Starting from the bottom, fold about 3 inches of the phyllo and filling over itself, brush with some olive oil and fold again (two large spatulas will help you lift and fold evenly). Brush the folded phyllo with olive oil and fold again to cover all the filling and make a log 18-20 inches long. With a spatula cut into 7 or 8 pieces.


Carefully transfer the pie pieces to the steamer basket; depending on the size of the steamer you will have to steam in 2 or 3 batches.

Wipe clean the working surface and roll out the second sheet of phyllo. Spread with half the remaining filling, roll and divide the log as above. Repeat with the last sheet of phyllo as above.

Bring the water in the steamer to a boil. Cover the basket with a loose fitting lid and steam the pieces for 15-20 minutes, or until the pies feel firm to the touch. Transfer to the baking sheet and continue steaming the rest.

In a bowl whisk together the sour cream (or yogurt and milk) with the egg. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the mixture over each piece of pie and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

(You can freeze the cooled pies in a zip-log bag. Re-heat in a 350˚F oven, right from the freezer, loosely wrapped in aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Unwrap and bake another 10 minutes or more to crisp.)



Baked Štrukli
Skip the steaming, and transfer the pieces directly to the baking sheet. Pour about 1 tablespoon of topping over each piece and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.


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