Obge are handmade filo sheets used to prepare traditional Bulgarian banitsa (layered filo pastries with different fillings). These are pepared in northwestern Bulgaria, especially in the town of Chiprovci and the surrounding area. The dough is prepared from flour, salt, water, and half a teaspoon of rakia (local brandy), according to a method passed down by women for generations. These ingredients are mixed into a dough that is left to rest for 10-15 minutes. The stretching step, when the dough is stretched very thin and as large as a baking tin, is what takes real skill. The sheets are baked in a wood-burning stove at a medium temperature. About ten obge sheets are required to make oen banitsa pastry. A similar product called moruzhnyak/моружняк is made from corn flour or a mixture of corn and wheat flour and vegetable oil, eggs, salt, and baking soda.
The tradition of making obge in the home dates back many years and has long been connected with traditional Bulgarian pastry making. In the local Torlak dialect, the rolling pin is called raztakyalka/разтаклялка and the traditional low worktable is called krug/кръг. Great dexterity and practice are needed to work with the thin dough. While this product was once found throughout northwestern Bulgaria, today it is mainly limited to Chiprovtsi and the surrounding area. While this handmade pastry is mainly used in the home, it can also be bought locally. However, this culinary tradition is threatened by the fact that younger people are migrating out of this poor area, and are not interested in carrying on with making obge. It is time consuming both to prepare and bake the many sheets that are needed to make the traditional banitsa pastries.Back to the archive >