Bulgarian Bird of Paradise Bread (Khliab Raiska Ptitsa)

"Savory feta cheese bread, topped with ham, olives cheese and pimiento."
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Ready In:
1hr 10mins
1 loaf


  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, 1 package
  • 12 teaspoon sugar
  • 14 cup lukewarm water (110 to 115 F.)
  • 3 - 3 12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 cup unflavored yoghurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, rubbed through a sieve (1/2 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, softened to grease pan
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with
  • 1 tablespoon milk (for glaze)
  • 14 lb kashkaval or 1/4 lb substitute sweet muenster cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and trimmed into 4 triangles about 4 inches long
  • 14 inch thick slice boiled ham, cut into four 1-inch squares
  • 4 ripe black olives, preferably Mediterranean type
  • 1 inch square sweet red peppers or 1 inch pimiento, cut into a star


  • In small, shallow bowl sprinkle the yeast and sugar over 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Let the mixture stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir well. Set the bowl in a warm, draft free place (such as a turned off oven) for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture almost doubles in volume.
  • Combine 3 cups of flour and the salt in a deep mixing bowl, make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture, yoghurt, eggs and brynze or feta cheese. With a large spoon, gradually stir the flour into the other ingredients, continuing to stir until the mixture is smooth and the flour is completely absorbed. The dough should be just firm enough to be gathered into a ball. If it is too soft, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour a tablespoon at a time, beating vigorously after each addition and using only enough of the flour to give the dough its proper consistency; it should not be too firm.
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by pushing it down with the heels of your hands, pressing it forward, and folding it back on itself. Continue the kneading for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle it from time too time with a little flour to prevent it from sticking to the board.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Drape with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in bulk.
  • With a pastry brush, spread a large baking sheet with the tablespoon of softened butter. Punch the dough down with a single blow of your fist, shape it into a round loaf about 8 inches in diameter, and set the round on the buttered sheet. Brush the entire surface of the dough evenly with the egg and milk mixture.
  • Place in the centre of the circle the 1 inch square of red pepper, cut into a star.
  • 1/4 pound Kashkaval, or substitute sweet Munster cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and trimmed into 4 triangles about 4 inches long are placed at 12 o’clock (0°), 3 o’clock (90°), 6 o’clock (180°), and 9 o’clock (270°).
  • The ham cubes are placed near the edge between the cheese slices at 1:30 o’clock (45°), 4:30 o’clock (135°), 7:30 o’clock (225°), and 10:30 o’clock (315°).
  • The olives are placed under the ham cubes (towards the center).
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F,. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer, or until the loaf is golden brown. Transfer the bread to a cake rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.
  • A Quintet of Cuisines Time Life.

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