Prekmurska gibanica (Prekmurje layer cake)
ZTP Prekmurska gibanica is a cake prepared from two types of dough (shortcrust pastry for the base and filo (strudel) pastry between the layers of filling) on which four different fillings (poppy seed, cottage cheese, walnut, apple) are placed in layers in a precisely defined sequence, with a layer of filo pastry between each filling. This sequence of fillings is then repeated in the same order, so that the gibanica contains two layers of each filling. The last layer of filling is topped by a layer of filo pastry, over which sour or sweet cream into which egg yolk has been mixed is poured. Alternatively the top layer is simply smeared with a fatty topping.
A slice of Prekmurska gibanica is solid and compact. The layers have to be well separated from each other to ensure that the slice has the correct appearance. Prekmurska gibanica can be baked in round or rectangular tins, and this affects the shape of the slice (triangular or rectangular).
Each filling has its own distinctly typical colour (the cottage cheese is a creamy white colour, the walnuts and apple are a golden brown colour and the poppy seeds are a glistening black colour). The top layer of filo pastry is not detached from the last filling. A slice of Prekmurska gibanica therefore has eight layers; the fillings follow each other according to a precisely determined sequence (poppy seeds, cottage cheese, walnuts, apple) and are of uniform thickness with regard to the individual type of filling. The second set of fillings is identical to the first. The product has a typical, intensive flavour and scent with a taste of fresh poppy seeds, sweet cottage cheese, delicate walnuts and slightly acidulous apple. The Prekmurska gibanica must be very succulent, not too greasy and optimally sweet. The texture of a slice is soft, delicate, fine, smooth and light. It has a balanced texture with regard to the individual ingredients.
The prescribed basic ingredients and additives of Prekmurska gibanica are as follows:
- — Shortcrust pastry: 200 g wheat flour (100 g hard and 100 g fine), 100 g margarine or butter, a pinch of salt or a pinch of sugar and 1 dl of cold water for kneading
- — Filo pastry: made from 900 g fine wheat flour, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar and tepid water for kneading
- — Fillings: poppy seed (300 g ground poppy seeds, 100 g granulated sugar and 1 sachet of vanilla sugar); cottage cheese (1,2 kg full-fat cottage cheese, 100 g granulated sugar, 2 sachets of vanilla sugar, 2 eggs and a pinch of salt); walnut (300 g ground walnuts, 100 g granulated sugar, 1 sachet of vanilla sugar); apple (1,5 kg of apples — fairly sour varieties, pinch of salt, 120 g granulated sugar, 2 sachets of vanilla sugar, pinch of cinnamon)
- — Toppings: cream topping (8 dl of cream, 3 eggs) and fatty topping (250 g margarine, butter or vegetable oil).
Production method for Prekmurska gibanica:
The shortcrust pastry is always prepared fresh. Sift the flour onto a board, add salt or sugar and, using a knife, crumble the fat into it or simply crumble the fat into the flour with cold hands. Add cold water or egg and milk and quickly knead to a smooth dough. Filo pastry is a very elastic pastry with a low fat content. Dry, well-seasoned flour is needed to make the dough. Sift the flour onto a board, make a hollow in the flour, add the fat, salt, sugar (an egg may also be added) and begin to knead the ingredients into a dough. While kneading, add tepid water as necessary and continue to knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Divide the filo pastry into 10 parts, and keep one spare if possible.
Apple filling: peel the apples, grate into thin ribbons, add granulated sugar and vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Mix together lightly. If very juicy apples are used, grate them, sprinkle with salt (optional) and leave them to rest for a while. Then squeeze them and only then add the remaining ingredients. Divide the filling into two parts.
Cream topping: Slowly beat whole eggs with sour or sweet cream. Pour the topping over the individual layers of filling in the Prekmurska gibanica. The quantity of cream topping is not the same for all the layers, so the total quantity must be appropriately divided. The biggest quantity of cream topping is used for the ‘dry’ fillings (poppy seed and walnut). The quantity is smaller for the cream cheese filling, while the smallest quantity is used for the apple filling (or the apples are so juicy that they do not require any topping at all).
Fatty topping: the fatty topping can be made with butter or vegetable fat. Like the cream topping, the fatty topping is poured over the individual layers in Prekmurska gibanica. The quantity of topping per layer is the same as for the cream topping. The shortcrust pastry is made and the remaining ingredients are prepared.
The prepared shortcrust pastry (fresh or from the refrigerator, where it must be cold stored) is rolled into a suitable shape for baking Prekmurska gibanica (rectangular or round). The thickness of the rolled shortcrust pastry must not be greater than 5 mm. Grease the tin with fat and place the rolled shortcrust pastry into it. Prick the shortcrust pastry with a fork in several places. Next place in a heated oven for a few minutes so that the pastry turns slightly yellow (this step is optional).
There are two ways to prepare the filo pastry, depending on the shape of the cake tin (rectangular or round):
- — Rectangular baking tin: Divide the freshly kneaded filo pastry into 10 small loaves. Coat the loaves of pastry with melted lard, butter or vegetable fat so that they are fresh and elastic after being left to rest. Once the pastry has rested, take one loaf, roll it and coat it with liquid fat once again so that it does not stick during subsequent working. Place the prepared dough of one loaf in a prepared greased tin with the shortcrust pastry so that the edges of the filo pastry overlap the edges of the tin. Cover the filo pastry in the tin with half of the poppy seed filling and pour cream topping and fatty topping over it. Spread the next layer of filo pastry over the poppy seed filling. Spoon half of the cream cheese filling onto the second layer of filo pastry and pour on a suitable quantity of the toppings (less than for the poppy seed filling). Place the third layer of filo pastry in the tin, spoon half of the walnut filling onto it and pour on the same quantities of the toppings as for the poppy seed filling. Now spread the fourth layer of filo pastry. Shake half of the apple filling onto it and pour on a very small amount of the toppings. If the apple filling is made from very juicy apples, do not pour any topping onto the filling. Now add a layer of filo pastry from the fifth loaf. At this point, the entire process is repeated in the same order, with the poppy seed layer being followed by cream cheese, walnuts and apple, with a layer of filo pastry between each filling.
- — Round baking tin: Coat all the filo pastry dough with liquid fat before working, and stretch into a large circle. Lower the central part of the pastry into a greased baking tin containing the short pastry and cut off the parts of the pastry that overlap the edges of the tin into nine roughly equal parts. Spoon half of the poppy seed filling onto the pastry in the tin and pour on the two toppings. Then stretch over it the first piece of the cut pastry so that it overlaps the edges. Stretch the pieces of cut pastry alternately over the filling. Spread half of the cream cheese filling over the second layer of filo pastry and pour on a small quantity of the toppings. Evenly spread half of the walnut filling over the third layer of filo pastry. Sprinkle with an appropriate quantity of cream and fatty topping. Then stretch the fourth piece of pastry over the filling and shake half of the apple filling onto it. Pour on a very small amount of the two toppings. Repeat this procedure in the same order.
When you have eight layers of filling with the corresponding layers of filo pastry between them, place the eighth layer of filo pastry over the last filling, sprinkle with cream topping or the fatty topping and then place a last (ninth) layer of filo pastry over it. Cut off all the thick edges of filo pastry which are left over when assembling the Prekmurska gibanica and which overlap the edges of the baking tin and place these remnants into the space between the Prekmurska gibanica and the edge of the tin. Coat the top layer of filo pastry in the tin with the fatty topping or with a combination of the fatty topping and sour or sweet cream into which egg yolk has been mixed. Pierce the Prekmurska gibanica in several places with a long thin needle to the bottom of the baking tin. Immediately after preparation, the (uncooked) Prekmurska gibanica can be packed in a suitable packaging material and frozen the same day (it can be stored in a freezer for up to 3 months).
Prekmurska gibanica (fresh or frozen) is baked in an oven until it is fully cooked. The oven temperature is 200 °C for one hour, and 170 °C-180 °C for another hour. If the Prekmurska gibanica has only been covered with the fatty topping before being baked, it must be coated with sour cream or sweet cream when it is removed from the oven at the end of baking. The baked Prekmurska gibanica must be left to cool at room temperature for a few hours. Baked Prekmurska gibanica must not be sliced when still hot.
If baked in a round baking tin, it is sliced into triangles, and if baked in a rectangular baking tin, it is sliced into rectangles. An individual piece of baked Prekmurska gibanica must be between 5 and 7 cm high and must not weigh more than 250 g. After slicing, sprinkle the top layer of filo pastry with caster sugar. In the case of industrial production, the weight of an individual slice should not exceed 200 g, while its size should be around 5 × 7 cm.
Traditional character of the agricultural product or foodstuff:
The word gibanica comes from the word gűba (fold or wrinkle) and the verb gibati (to bend or curve). Evidence that this type of cake has long been known in Prekmurje is provided by numerous historical sources. The oldest written source dates back to 1828, when the educator and priest Jožef Košič, compiled a document indicating the most commonly eaten foods in a Prekmurje village a hundred years ago, paying special attention to dishes such as hajdinjača, prekmurska gibanica, krapci and vrtanki. Košič also presents the dishes that are served at wedding feasts in Prekmurje and Gibanica is one of the dishes that is always eaten at weddings.
Prekmurska gibanica is even mentioned by Prekmurje’s greatest poet Miško Kranjec in his 1972 work Povest o dobrih ljudeh (A Tale of Good People): ‘It has to be said that only a gibanica makes it a real holiday. Although a poor man can afford it barely once a year, this is a sign that no-one can survive a year without at least one holiday. Meanwhile Anna took the gibanica from the oven and placed it on the table, holding the tepsija with cloths so as not to burn herself. Joseph placed under it the wooden saucer on which the water jug usually stood. Then he looked closely at the gibanica. It lay in front of him all colourful, yellow and white, with poppy seeds here and there, still piping hot, smeared with cream and sprinkled with sugar. He nodded, saying: “It’s good. I would eat it even if I were lying on my death bed and knew full well that it could no longer do me any good. And even in heaven I would mourn it, if I had to leave it whole in the world”.’ In the past fifteen years a number of books describing Prekmurska gibanica have been published.
Reference: The European Commission