Mesenitza (Tutmanik)

Mesenitza is simply a bread stuffed with cheese, this famous sirenje (or sirene) that is used in a multitude of Bulgarian recipes and that can easily be replaced with Greek feta. This bread is also called tutmanik and it is a very popular bread in Bulgaria. Every region, every village and even every family may have different recipes and even names for it.
The basic ingredients are flour, yeast, oil, milk, butter, eggs, famous Bulgarian yogurt and sirenje. The final shape and recipe vary, but the basic idea remains the same: roll the dough thinly and stuff it before closing it in a cylinder shape or small roll and then all shapes of large round loaves are allowed!
According to various sources, the original mesenitza was prepared based on a mixture of corn and wheat flours, and some even added rye flour. A lot of spice and cheese were added. This dough was soft or semi liquid. The mixture was poured into a baking dish, then baked. People ate it hot accompanied by yogurt or milk.
Depending on the region of Bulgaria, there are still recipes with corn flour. But the most traditional recipe is the one I chose to prepare today. There are also family recipes of mesenitza as for example, with fried ground or chopped pork that is mixed with sirene.
Some people even make a sweet version for which they combine sirene to fruit jam, marmalade or jelly. But it is rare and more popular in the northern regions of Bulgaria or with Bulgarians living in Romania, Moldova, Russia or Ukraine.
In most cases, the dishes prepared by Bulgarians living outside of Bulgaria are called differently, with sometimes names that are completely changed.

Mesenitza (Tutmanik)

Preparation time: 2h
Rest time: 1h
Baking time: 0h25
Serves 4 people
Ingredients:
For the dough:
                 1-1/2 lb flour, sifted
                 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
                 2 eggs, beaten
                 2 tablespoons olive oil
                 1 teaspoon baking soda
                 1 tablespoon sugar
                 1 teaspoon salt
                 About 1 cup milk, lukewarm
For the filling:
                 1 egg
                 8 tablespoons butter, soft
                 4 oz Bulgarian yogurt, beaten
                 13 oz sirene (or feta), crumbled
For the decoration:
                 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of cold milk
Directions:
Dough
Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Mix all ingredients of the dough except the salt and incorporate milk slowly.
Form a dough and finally incorporate the salt. Knead the dough for 5 minutes with a stand mixer (at medium speed) or 10 minutes (by hand). Cover the dough and let it rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place, away from drafts.
Filling
Beat the egg and mix it with yogurt and sirene.
Mesenitza
Divide the dough into several balls of equal weight. Roll each ball to a thickness of about 1/2 inch.
Smear butter and filling on the surface of each piece of dough. Roll the dough onto itself to obtain a cylinder.
Shape each cylinder into a snail-shaped roll and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place all the snail-shaped rolls next to each other by spacing them slightly to form a large bun. As they expand during baking, all the snails will form one large bread. Let rise again for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat convection oven to 350 F.
Coat the bread with the egg yolk and milk mixture. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread is golden.

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