Sweet Gibanica- traditional folded cake


It's a traditional pastry dish that is popular in the Balkans. It varies from sweet to savoury and every day- simple dishes to a bit more complicated multi layered cakes.
Gibanica in literal translation means 'to fold'.
The magic of gibanica is that it can be filled with anything you can find in your kitchen.
Most popular fillings with savoury Gibanica are potatoes, cabbage, leek, turnip,spinach, nettle, kaymak, cottage cheese and in sweets are usually walnuts, poppy seeds, apples, cottage cheese and usually loads of eggs. Traditionally it used to be made with lard but that has mostly changed and people are usually using sunflower or canola oil these days.

For this Gibanica I've prepared two different kinds of sweet fillings (apple and poppy seeds) and two kinds of dough.
In my recipe I will skip using eggs as it's usually in traditional recipes and I will use vegan yogurt instead of sour cream and milk. I try to use a little bit less oil as well. As it's not apple season yet here, I used frozen apples.
Although I didn't use a bunch of eggs, cream or lard, the cake was really rich and kind of heavy. This is the kind of cake we usually prepare at the end of a big project (usually physical kind) and of course it always finds its place in a traditional Slovenian wedding menu.

Ingredients for phyllo dough:

  • 600 g of all purpose flour
  • 3 dl of warm water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • about 50 ml of canola oil for covering phyllo dough

Ingredients for the bottom- butter dough:

  • 200 g of strong flour
  • 100 g of cold margarine
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 100 ml of cold water

Ingredients for poppy seed filling:

  • 400 g of poppy seeds
  • 80 g of sugar
  • 3 dl of rice milk
  • a teaspoon of vanilla extract

Ingredients for apple filling:

  • 1,5 kg of apples
  • 100 g of sugar
  • 100 g of breadcrumbs
  • a pinch of salt
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon

For covering the layers:

  • 500 g of vegan yogurt
  • 150 ml of canola oil


  1. For the phyllo dough, sift the flour into a bowl and make a hole in the middle. Pour the oil and water, in which we have dissolved the salt and apple vinegar. Start mixing the ingredients slowly with your fingers to stick together. Wrap it up and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  2. For the bottom- butter dough, sift strong flour through a strainer and mix in a pinch of salt and sugar. Cut cold margarine into small pieces and add cold water. Knead it quickly with your hands. Place it in a fridge for half an hour to cool.
  3. Place poppy seeds and sugar in a food processor and blend it together. Bring rice milk to boil, add vanilla extract to it and pour it over the poppy seeds and sugar mixture. Whisk it well and set aside to cool down.
  4. Grate the apples and drain excess juice. Mix apples with sugar, breadcrumbs, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  5. Cover your baking tray with oil. Roll cooled butter dough in the shape of the baking tray and place it on the bottom of the tray. Pierce it a few times with a fork and place it in a preheated oven on 180 C for 5 minutes. When done the crust must be cooled down before we continue with folding Gibanica.
  6. Get the phyllo dough that was sitting in the fridge and divide it into 5 equal parts.
    IMG_20210817_110345.jpg Knead a ball out of each and roll it on a floured surface.
    IMG_20210817_110702.jpg Cover it with 2 tablespoons of oil and start pulling out corners of the dough with your fingertips.
    IMG_20210817_110838.jpg The dough is stretched enough when it's so thin that you can see right through it.
    IMG_20210817_111117.jpg Repeat this with all of the pieces of phyllo dough.
  7. Place the first sheet of the phyllo dough over the cooled bottom crust, that we already half- baked. The dough sheet must be wide enough to be pulled over the top of the edges of the baking tray.
  8. Place half of the apple filling on top and cover it with a few tablespoons of vegan yogurt and oil mixture.
  9. Cover it with another sheet of the phyllo dough and spread half of the poppy seed filling and some of the yogurt-oil mixture over it.
    Cover that with another sheet of the dough and continue with an apple filling again. Repeat the process and end it with poppy seeds filling and another phyllo dough sheet on the top.
    Cut away the excess dough on the edges. Cover the top with yogurt and oil mixture and pierce it a few times with a needle or a toothpick, all the way to the bottom.
  10. Place it in a preheated oven on 180 C for 50-60 minutes. Cool it down before serving.



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