The story of Prekmurska gibanica / Prekmurje layer cake

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How to prepare one of the most famous traditional Slovenian dishes – Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layer cake?

Slovenia is celebrating its title of European Gastronomic region of 2021. With that in mind, we decided to highlight all the traditional dishes and specialties our country on the sunny side of the Alps has to offer. Many Slovenian traditional dishes are known internationally, like Kranjska klobasa, which has traveled to space, Blejska kremšnita that tastefully represents the beautiful Alpine valley of Lake Bled and the “ever-green” festive pastry potica. Among the mentioned delicious trio, we must not forget to add Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layered cake.

What is Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layer cake?

“I would mourn losing it even in heaven if I had to leave it behind in this world,” a Slovenian author wrote about the Prekmurje gibanica.

Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layered cake is one of the most popular desserts in Slovenia, which comes from the region located alongside the River Mura. Prekmurska gibanica consists of two types of dough and four different fillings, divided into eight layers, and two kinds of icing. Prekmurska gibanica has layers of poppy seeds, apple filling, cottage cheese filling, walnut filling, and an optional topping such as sour cream. Some recipes include raisins in the apple layer, but if you deviate too far from the original recipe it can’t keep the same name as the name and ingredients are protected by law. How is that for a rich-tasting dessert? We could also a Prekmurska gibanica is a cake with the biggest number of layers (at least in Slovenia). Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layered cake is traditionally baked in a round earthenware baking dish.

Origin of Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layered cake

Prekmurje layered cake or in Slovenian Prekmurska gibanica is a symbol of Prekmurje region. The oldest mention of Prekmurska gibanica date back to 1828, when a local priest by the name of Jožef Kosič from Prekmurje compiled a text, which mentions the Gibanica as a special Prekmurian dish, which is a must at wedding festivities and is also served to workers after finishing a big project in the village or town. The priest also mentioned the many layers of Prekmurska gibanica: “The dough is rolled until thin, sprinkled with grated cabbage, turnips, or quark. All is covered by a second layer of dough. It is sprinkled as previously. 10 or 11 such layers are thus composed and form a conspicuous cake.

Protection of Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layer cake

After joining the European Union the Prekmurian layer cake was protected on a European level with the label ‘Traditional Speciality Guaranteed’. Similar to Kranjska klobasa, which is also under protection by the European Union, and only 13 sausage producers in Slovenia are allowed to make it.

Traditional Slovenian recipe for Prekmurska gibanica or Prekmurje layer cake

Ingredients:

  • Light dough
  • Filo pastry sheets

Poppy seed filling

  • 300 g of finely ground poppy seeds
  • 100 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar

Skuta curd cheese filling

  • 1.2 kg full-fat skuta curd cheese
  • 100 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 packs vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt

Walnut filling

  • 300 g ground walnuts
  • 100 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar

Apple filling

  • 1.5 kg apples – a sour variety
  • a pinch of salt
  • 120 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 packs vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon

Cream topping

  • 800 ml whipping cream
  • 3 eggs

Margarine/butter/lard topping

  • 250 g margarine/butter/lard or plant oil

Preparation

First begin by placing a layer of light dough and then placing a layer of filo pastry sheet on top of it, on which half of the poppy seed filling is spread evenly. Pour the margarine/butter/lard and the cream toppings over this layer. Add a second layer of filo pastry and skuta curd cheese filling, then a third layer of filo pastry with the walnut filling, and a fourth layer of filo pastry with the apple filling. The fatty and cream toppings are poured over every layer of filling. The entire procedure is then repeated in the same order, i.e. the poppy seed layer is followed by the skuta curd cheese filling, then the walnut and the apple filling.

Once there are eight layers of filling with suitable layers of filo pastry in-between, the eighth layer of filo pastry is placed on top of the final filling, which is then sprinkled with the cream or fatty topping, and then the last, ninth layer of filo pastry is added. The Prekmurje layer cake (gibanica) is baked for an hour at 180°C. The height of individual pieces of the baked gibanica must be from 5 to 7 cm, and its weight cannot exceed 250 g.

Source of the recipe: STO