I, like many others, love cheese and I love bread. When put together, there is nothing like it! It is so simple but so good. Just about every culture has some sort of cheese and bread concoction and I rarely hear anyone not loving this combination.
This is just one of the ways the Middle East combines the two. Fatayer jibneh, which translates to cheese pies, are really easy and come together super fast with this 10-minute dough recipe. Don't be intimidated by the word dough, because this one is pretty fail-proof and once you learn it, I promise you'll be making it often! It is versatile and quick to make, and after I learned to make it, fatayer became a regular occurrence at my house and I've turned my back on store-bought pastries!
Versions of the filling are made across the Middle East, each using its own mix of cheeses and herbs. My favourite cheese to use is Turkish white cheese, which is soft and crumbly like feta, but much less salty. Another good option is halloumi, although the texture will be different. If you are a fan of a good cheese pull, you can add a handful or two of shredded mozzarella to either cheese! I like to add parsley to cut through the richness and nigella seeds. Don't skip the nigella seeds, they add such a lovely flavour.
When it comes to forming the dough, the possibilities are endless. You could do open boat shapes, braids, triangles, whatever you like. I like to make these little bun shapes because they are easy and perfect to eat on the go! Once you've formed them, brush your fatayer with an egg wash or milk, I personally prefer milk and sprinkle with nigella seeds if you like. Bake until golden and they're ready! Serve on their own with a cup of tea for breakfast, or with a salad or veggies on the side. Once you sink your teeth into these soft, cheesy pillows, you'll be hooked!
Makes about 30 fatayer
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk powder
2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup olive oil
250 g Turkish white cheese, halloumi, or any other
white cheese of choice
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp nigella seeds, plus some for sprinkling
- To make the dough, mix together 2 cups of flour with the yeast, sugar, salt, milk powder and water in a large bowl. Whisk until completely incorporated. It will be a runny mixture. Cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the dough base has risen, 10-15 minutes later, it should look bubbly and doubled in size. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and olive oil and knead until it is smooth. If it is too sticky, add some flour while kneading and if it is too dry, add a little bit more oil. You could use this immediately, but I like to leave to rest while I make the filling. The rested dough is easier to work with.
- To make the filling, mix the ingredients until fully incorporated. I use a fork to crumble my cheese.
- Divide the dough into equal-sized balls and cover while working. Spread your dough, add filling in the middle, but not too much so it doesn't ooze out, and bring together all the corners. Pinch well and tuck in. Place on a lined caking tray.
- Brush with milk or egg wash and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
- Bake at 200 C or 180 C in a fan-assisted oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!