Peinirli, pronounced Paey-Neer-LEE (peynir, Turkish for cheese) is a kind of an open faced pita (or you can even describe it as a pizza shaped gondola) with kasseri cheese, often topped with other ingredients as well.
“Peinirli” were introduced to Greece by the Greek Pontians, who lived near the Black Sea for millennia.
During the First World War, they were persecuted by the Turks, resulting in the Pontian genocide.
Those who survived managed to take refuge in Russia and after the war, those who were still there, came to Greece after the treaty of Lausanne (24th July, 1923) determined the exchange of the various peoples concerned.
These snacks are sold in restaurants which specialize in peinirli but you can also find them in some takeaway pastry stores which also sell tyropita, spanakopita etc.
The recipe is adapted from my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad“.
What Dough is suitable to make Peinirli?
The yeasted dough is similar to that of pizza but it is made with milk instead of water. Instead of olive oil you can add butter or shortening to the dough.
Pizza dough is usually very thin and crispy whereas peinirli dough is thicker and softer.
What cheeses are suitable to make Peinirli?
You can make peinirli with just kasseri, which melts while still warm and you can cut the bread and dip it in the melting cheese.
Apart from Kasseri, other Greek cheese which I like to use is feta, Graviera or Kefalograviera.
If you cannot find any of these cheeses where you live, try it with other melting cheese such as mozzarella or provolone or a mixture of mozzarella, Monterey Jack and white cheddar in equal proportions. You can also add feta, gouda, halloumi, goat’s cheese, etc.
What toppings can I use?
However, nowadays you can buy peinirli topped with prosciutto, chicken, smoked turkey, sausage, feta with tomato, mushrooms, peppers, pesto on top of its base before adding any other ingredient or with an egg on top.
Shaping Peinirli into a boat
After making the dough, add a tablespoon of olive oil to wet the dough, cover with cling film and a kitchen towel and let it rise.
Flour your working surface and knead the dough a couple of times to deflate.
Form the dough into a long cylinder shaped dough and cut it into six equal parts (about 140 grams each).
This will make 6 large ones, each being enough for a meal on its own. However, if you want to make some smaller ones as snacks or as finger food for parties, you can divide the dough in many pieces to make them as small as you like.
Form six balls which then flatten into six discs.
Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, flouring your working surface and the dough regularly, until it reaches about 1/2 cm thick (or 26 cm x 22 cm).
You can now proceed in two ways. The first is to give the dough its gondola shape and then add the cheese filling or roll out the dough, add the cheese and then shape into a gondola.
I prefer the second method.
To do this, you have to create a ridge by folding the bigger edge two or three times. Then you fold the edges until both ends meet and join them together by pressing them.
Once shaped, then you can add more ingredients on top.
Put them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cover them with a kitchen towel and let them rise again.
How long does it take to bake them?
When they rise, brush the dough with melted ewe’s butter. If you don’t have ewe’s butter brush them with olive oil or clarified butter.
Preheat your oven to 200oC. If you have a fan forced oven, then preheat the oven to 180oC.
Place the baking tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden and cooked at the bottom.
If you are adding an egg, after the 12 minutes, make space in the centre of the cheese, with a spoon and add the egg. Bake for 3 more minutes.
- 2 tbsp flour
- 8 grams dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- Lukewarm water (about ¼ cup)
- 500 grams bread flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or butter or shortening)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup tepid milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil to wet the dough
- 250 grams kasseri cheese
- 200 grams feta
- 2 tbsp melted ewe's butter to brush on top
- You can add some ham, smoked turkey, bacon, cooked minced meat, etc.
- Prepare the starter: In a medium sized bowl combine flour, yeast and sugar and mix.
- Pour the lukewarm water and mix until it becomes a batter.
- Cover with cling film and a kitchen towel and let it rest for 5-10 minutes or until it bubbles. During this time, the yeast should start to bloom and froth up.
- Prepare the dough: Attach the dough paddle to the mixer and add the flour, olive oil and salt and mix.
Add the yeast, mix and then add the milk gradually. Mix again until the dough does not stick on your hands. If it is too sticky, add more flour.
- Remove the hook and add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and coat the dough.
- Cover with cling film and a tea towel and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. (At this stage you can leave it in the fridge until the next day. In this case you have to bring it back to room temperature again).
- When ready, punch the dough to deflate and knead again for a couple of minutes.
- Form it into a log and divide it into 6 equal pieces, around 140 grams each and shape them into round balls and then flatten them into discs.
- Roll out each ball giving it a rectangular shape.
- Meantime crumble the feta and add the kasseri cheese and mix to combine.
- Spread the cheese on the dough, leaving 3 – 4 cm around the edges without cheese.
- Fold the edges twice on both sides to create a rim.
- Join the two sides, folding until the edges meet. Pinch them together so that they join and stick.
- Place them in a baking tin lined with parchment paper and cover them with a tea towel until they rise.
- Add ham and any other additional ingredient you like.
- Brush the ridge with some melted butter.
- Preheat oven to 200o C and bake for fifteen minutes, until golden.
- This is optional but if you like an egg on top, crack the egg in a cup. Remove the baking tin from the oven after 12 minutes and make some room in the centre with a spoon.
- Take the yolk and a little of the egg white (about half) with the spoon and place it in the centre.
- Put it back in the oven and bake for 3 – 5 more minutes, until the egg white sets.
- Serve with freshly grated black pepper on top of the egg.
- Serve as a snack or as a meal with a salad to accompany it.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 379Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 3mgSodium 413mgCarbohydrates 67gFiber 3gSugar 1gProtein 12g
"These values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed."
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!