This recipe is not for the weak-hearted. It sounds very complicated, but I promise, it’s only slightly complicated!
Homemade Albanian Pite
- 2 cups water (lukewarm)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
- 3,5 to 4 c. all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp evoo
- 1/2 lb. fresh spinach, chopped into ribbons
- 2 cups Feta cheese
Mix salt, water and oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add in flour until mixture forms a dough. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, not sticky. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let sit for 1/2 an hour. (preferably in a warm place. I usually turn my oven on “warm” and let the bowl sit on the range during this time. It works like a charm!)
Melt together on the stove over “low” then set aside until needed.
Stack handfuls of spinach in neat piles and then roll the stacks up like cigars. Chop spinach rolls width-wise so that you get thin ribbons. Place the spinach ribbons in a colander over a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the spinach and let it sit until you need it later. The spinach will sweat out all excess water during this process.
Putting it all together:
- After the dough has risen, place it on a floured surface.
- Roll it with your hands into a snake-like shape (think kindergartners planing with clay!)
- Cut off golf-ball-sized pieces (I got about 28 out of my dough).
- Form the pieces into balls by folding the edges of the dough inward. Flip over so the smooth side of the dough balls faces up.
- With a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into about 3-4″ circles/ovals (you want the dough as thin as possible).
- Take each dough circle and individually stretch them out even further by hand (think pizza-making!).
- As you stretch out each circle, you want to start stacking them on top of each other and sealing the edges of each together. In between each layer, brush on some of the butter mixtures. So, it’ll go:
- Stretched one circle of dough, lay it on the table
- Brush on butter mixture (cover the entire surface)
- Stretch another circle of dough
- Lay the second circle on top of the first, and pull the edges of the second circle so it aligns with the first circle
- Press edges together so they fuse
You’ll want to make three piles of these stacks of dough circles. 1 pile will have 5 layers; this will be your inner layer on the pie. The 2 other piles will be your bottom layer and a top layer of the pie. These two stacks should have about an equal amount of dough layers.
NOW you get to assemble the actual pie. Preheat your oven to 375*
- Brush a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking sheet. Move your bottom layer of dough (stretch it further as you move it) and place it on the baking sheet. Stretch the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan and pinch the edges of the dough directly to the pan so it sticks.
- Squeeze the water from your spinach and then spread half evenly on the dough.
- Sprinkle some feta evenly on top of the spinach. The amount is to your taste.
- Drizzle a little butter mixture over the spinach & feta.
- Repeat steps 8-11 with your thinner middle layer of dough.
- Place the top layer of dough on a top pinch the corners of the dough together so all edges of the pie are sealed.
- Brush MORE butter on the top of the dough.
- Place dough in the oven and bake until the top is nice and brown (my oven took about 45 minutes for this, yours will probably be different!).
- Slice and serve immediately. Leftovers are quite delicious too!