Those cheese pies are simply scrumptious and easy to make. The pizza-like dough in this recipe is very malleable and fun to work with. This is actually the same recipe as man’oushet Abou kamel in my book, and my favourite when I bake Pizza.
I have been experimenting with spelt wheat lately, using it instead of all-purpose flour. Popular in bakeries in Germany, spelt is a cereal grain in the wheat family with a distinctive nutty and slightly sweet flavour. It is also an ideal alternative to wheat if you are allergic to the latter, more digestible, higher in protein and has fewer calories. You can substitute wheat flour with spelt almost in a 1:1 ratio, you only need to reduce the liquids by a very little amount! I made these pies with white spelt flour the other day, and I was using 1 tablesoon (15 ml) less water than stated in the recipe. The dough turned out even more pliable, and the pies much tastier!
For these Fatayer bi jibneh you can also use Feta for the filling, and even mix Akkawi and Halloumi together. If you don’t like egg wash, many people don’t, just skip this step. I tried all variations, and I loved them all!
As for working the dough, you either divide the dough into 4 pieces, and then each piece into 8 to get 32 pieces, or for more accuracy, you follow these instructions: Weigh your dough, divide result into 32 and get the approximate weight for the ball. Call me crazy, but this is what I do when making all my breads and pastries!
Fatayer bi jibneh - Cheese Pies
- For the dough
- 450 g all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rise dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 250 ml lukewarm water
- For the filling
- 600 g akkawi cheese
- 150 g spring onions trimmed, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of parsley 40 g, leaves stripped off, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
- 2 egg whites
- 30 g melted butter
- 1- teaspoon Nigella seeds
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried green mint crushed in your palms
- For the egg wash
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1- teaspoon Nigella seeds
- For the dough: Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and mix well until the dough gathers into a ball, adding a little extra flour if it is sticky or a drizzle of water if dry. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and pliable. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
- For the filling: when using akkawi cheese, slice it and soak in water for a couple of hours to reduce the salt. Pat dry the cheese slices and process in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add the spring onions, parsley, egg whites, melted butter, 1 teaspoon nigella seeds, black pepper and dried mint. Mix well.
- For the egg wash: in a small bowl whisk egg yolks, water, salt and nigella seeds.
- Make the pies: On a slightly floured surface divide the dough into 32 pieces, forming each piece into a small ball. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Roll each ball into an oval shape (14x8 cm). Evenly spread a heaped tablespoonful cheese filling over the dough leaving 1 cm border. Fold in the long sides without completely covering the cheese and pinch the ends tightly to seal.
- Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated oven (200°C/ 400°F) for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden in colour. Serve warm or at room temperature.