Prep 1 hr
Cook 40 mins
My interpreter's mother (who was a commercial baker in Skopje, Macedonia) used a dowel which looked to be about 3/8 to 1/2 inch in diameter and about 3 feet long to roll out her pastry. She used this to make the pastry for her Hortopita, which is a Greek/Macedonian baking-powder-leavened bread stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. It is simply fantastic the way she made it - rolling out the dough with her dowel in a long thin strip. Then she would place the spinach/Feta cheese stuffing along the middle of the strip and fold the dough over the stuffing. Then she would roll the stuffed dough into a spiral like a cinnamon roll, bake it and serve. It is no wonder that I am not weighing 500 pounds! Make it several weeks ahead, and freeze, then thaw and reheat it in a moderate oven. Serve it as an hors d'oeuvre or with the meal.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1⁄2 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus additional
- 2 leeks, white parts only, well washed, split, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 1⁄2 lbs spinach, well washed, dried, and roughly chopped
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup mint, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons dill, chopped
- 2 1⁄2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of two 12-by-18-inch baking sheets.
- In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add 1 cup cold water and 2/3 cup olive oil, and process until smooth. Remove the dough from the food processor, knead it into a ball with your hands, and wrap loosely in plastic film. Let it sit for 10 minutes or until ready to use.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 1/2 cup of the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion, and scallions, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, and sauté, stirring until slightly soft, about 3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl, and add the parsley, mint (if using), dill, feta cheese, and salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into a very thin rectangle. Brush each piece with the remaining oil, and spread 3/4 to 1 cup of filling along the length and center of each rectangle. Starting at one long side of each rectangle, roll the dough around itself to enclose the filling.
- Place the rolled dough seam-side down on the baking sheet, bending each piece to form a spiral. Brush with olive oil, and prick the surface here and there with a fork to allow steam to vent. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake until golden, 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool slightly, cut, and serve.
This pastry is the easiest rolling I've ever worked with. It rolls paper thin, never gets tough, peels off a marble slab in one piece and doesn't harden in the fridge. I made a tart rather than a coiled rope because I'm lazy. We used chopped fennel, limp lettuce, cooked collard greens and chard as a substitute for the spinach, and added 1/2 cup sour cream to the filling because we were low on feta. Worked great, and we really enjoyed.