Greek

Sunflower Spanakopita

2/13/2014 11:00:00 PM

Sunflower Spanakopita

Hey hey! Quick recipe post for you today! It's going to be mainly photos because I'm flying off first thing tomorrow morning for a long weekend. Yay! 

So, I saw this gorgeous sunflower-shaped spanakopita on my friend Anna's blog the other day, thought it was stunning and promptly put it on my to do list. I made it tonight, and loved it. I'm also blogging it on the same day. Speed! Anna found the recipe on Italian Chips, who got it from Zenzero e Limone, who got it from La Meraviglie di Cicetta. On those blogs, it was more of an Italian pie - spinach, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Anna made it Greek by using feta instead of of Parmesan, and thus it became a spanakopita. Another change she made was to use half spelt flour, which I did as well. Next time I might use wholemeal spelt because that what Anna did, and I loved the hearty wholeweat look that her pie had. (I happen to have both regular and wholemeal spelt flour in the pantry; that was an expensive trip to the gourmet supermarket!)

The dough is easy to make - just stir together some flour, salt, wine and extra virgin olive oil, and knead it a little until smooth. (I guess you could use sunflower oil if you wanted to keep in with the sunflower theme, but olive oil tastes and smells so nice!) It's so easy to work with.

Oil and wine dough

The dough can rest while you make the filling - cook down some spinach leaves, drain and chop, then add ricotta, feta, egg and spring onions. (The spring onions were another one of my additions - I often find ricotta can be a bit bland, so I thought it would be a good way to flavour it up!) Please also notice that I splashed out on the expensive ricotta and proper Greek feta, haha.

Filling ingredients

Filling

The dough is super easy to roll out - I found that I didn't even need to flour the bench, as the oil in the dough prevented it from sticking. Let's have a look as the assembly.

Base

With breadcrumbs

Topped with the filling

By the time I got to this point, I realised that it would be too tricky to keep folding the pie in my high-sided tray (despite the high edges, it's the only one I have that's big enough to fit the pie), so I carefully lifted it out of the tin on the baking paper and kept going on the bench.

Lid on!

Once the lid is placed on, and you have sealed the centre mound with a mug or bowl, you could neatly trim the edges and seal them by pressing down with the tines of a fork... but I didn't want to waste any dough! (I love bread and dough!) So I just folded the dough around and pressed it shut as neatly as I could.

Folded and crimped edges

The next step is to slice the "petals" of the border. I think it looks best in relatively small slices - I went for sixteen.

Slicing the "petals"

The tricky part (although it's not really that hard) is twisting the little petals on a ninety degree angle.

Twisting the petals

And there is your sunflower!

Sunflower Spanakopita!

Then I glazed it with egg and baked it.

And glazed

Ta-dah! Quite easy and so impressive! It's not just pretty, but tastes great too. The wine in the dough is a great touch - when it's baking it gives off that awesome sour aroma, much like yeast would in a bakery. Smells so inviting! I've only ever had spanakopitas made with filo pastry before, and I really liked the thicker, slightly bready pastry on this version. If you couldn't be bothered doing the whole sunflower thing, you could definitely use the dough and filling to make "normal" shaped pies or little pasties or whatever. Like I said, the dough is pretty easy to work with so I think you could be quite creative with it.

Thanks so much to Anna for sharing the recipe! Please check out her wonderful blog for lots of great Cypriot family recipes and other yumminess!

Sunflower Spanakopita
Adapted from Anna's Kitchen Table, who adapted it from Italian Chips, who adapted it from Zenzero e Limone, who adapted it from La Meraviglie di Cicetta

Ingredients
For the dough
250 grams plain flour
250 grams spelt flour
200 millilitres dry white wine
90 millilitres extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
For the filling
300 grams spinach leaves
250 grams ricotta cheese
200 grams feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1 egg, extra, for glazing

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C.
For the dough, stir all the ingredients together. Knead gently by hand until the dough comes together and is reasonably smooth. Cover with cling wrap and set aside.
For the filling, cook the spinach leaves in a large frying pan with a splash of water until wilted. (You may need to do this in batches). Place in a sieve over a bowl and allow to drain. Chop the spinach with a pair of kitchen scissors in the sieve. Press down with the back of a spoon (or a potato masher!) to squeeze out the excess water.
Stir together the ricotta, feta, egg, spring onions and drained spinach. Season with pepper. (No need to add salt, because the dough and feta are already salty). Stir well to combine.
Divide the dough into two even pieces. Roll out one piece into a rough 30 centimetre circle. Place on a lined baking tray and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over. Dollop a large spoonful of the spinach and cheese mixture into the centre, then make a circle with the remaining filling. (See above pictures!).
Roll out the remaining piece of dough to a similar size, and gently place on top of the pie. Press the dough down around the middle mound of filling using a mug or small bowl. Fold the dough around the edges and press to seal. (You can trim them neatly and crimp with a fork, but I prefer the fold and squish method).
Use a sharp knife to cut the borders into small slices, radiating from the centre. Turn each slice 90 degrees so that the cheese filling is exposed and the dough is on the sides. If necessary, press them down a little to keep them stable.
Beat the extra egg and brush all exposed pastry with beaten egg.
Bake for an hour, or until the dough is golden brown and cooked through.
Serves 4-6

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6 comments

  1. Sarah, it looks great! I'm going to use spring onions next time too now I've seen yours and maybe some chopped black olives, I may try with all spelt flour too. Let's see how we get on.

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  2. Such a fast post! Was only just looking at this on IG and here it is! Looks amazing and I bet it tasted fabbo too! Would make such a pretty centrepiece for a family meal or picnic!

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  3. This is ridiculous! So amazing looking and I'm sure it tasted totes amazeballs!

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  4. What a great idea - I haven't seen Spanakopita done like this before. Very keen to try!

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  5. That's such a beautiful bread! I love the unique presentation.

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  6. This looks great! This sunflower spanakopita brings sunshine! How lovely!

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