Tiropitakia kourou (τυροπιτάκια κουρού) are delicious Greek cheese pies that are usually served for breakfast. A rich, crumbly dough hides a wonderful filling that is generally made of Feta cheese.
What Is Kourou Dough?
Kourou is a Greek shortcrust pastry that has a texture similar to a biscuit or tart crust. It is primarily composed of flour, yogurt, butter and/or oil. Some recipes will also include eggs.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy: The dough can quickly be prepared by hand. No need for a mixer. And you don’t even need a rolling pin for the dough. Simply pat the dough down with your hand!
- Customizable: You can play around with the cheese used for the filling or with the herbs. You could even use this dough with sweet fillings.
- Make-ahead: You can prepare the tiropitakia kourou whenever you have time. Pop them in the freezer. Then simply bake them one morning when you just need to have some!
- Kid friendly: The kids just love these tiropitakia. They’ll have them any time of the day!
How to Make Tiropitakia Kourou
There are two components in this recipe: the kourou dough and the cheese filling. You’ll first need to prepare the dough and refrigerate it while you make the filling.
To make the kourou dough, we will:
- Rub together the dry ingredients and cold butter.
- Add the remaining ingredients.
- Knead just until combined then cover and chill.
For the filling, all we need to do is mix the ingredients together until creamy. Then simply divide the dough into equal pieces and fill with the cheese mixture.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients we will need.
- Flour: The flour will give structure to the dough. We’ll be using all-purpose flour.
- Yogurt: One particularity of the kourou dough is that includes yogurt which will add a little bit of tanginess. You’ll need strained Greek yogurt.
- Butter: For richness and flavor. We’ll be using cold butter and rubbing the flour and butter (sanding) before adding the wet ingredients. Some recipes skip the butter and use oil instead. I personally prefer much more using a combination of butter and oil. You’ll also find some versions that use melted butter instead of cold butter. But you would have to wait for the hot, melted butter to cool down before using it. I found it simpler to use the butter straight from the fridge.
- Oil: Use a neutral vegetable oil.
- Baking powder: Just a little bit, for a lighter crust. You don’t want to add too much or the pies will start to crack.
- Cheese: You’ll need a little bit of cheese for the dough and a lot for the filling! You can choose whatever cheese you like. But Feta cheese is the traditional choice. I like using it in combination with another cheese, to add another dimension. My first choice would be Kefalotiri, a salty cheese with a bold flavor. But since it can be hard to find, I’ve replaced it with Emmental cheese, which is more readily available. If your Feta is very salty, then it might be best to combine it with a relatively low salt cheese.
- Egg: To bind the filling. Other alternatives include yogurt or cream cheese. Mixing the egg with the cheese will give it a creamy texture. This will make it very easy to spread the cheese on the dough. Note that the egg will tone down the taste of the cheese a little. If you prefer a more intense flavor, you can simply crumble the cheese onto the dough.
- Flavorings: A little bit of salt, to enhance all the flavors. You can also season with black pepper for a nice kick. And adding fresh (or dried) herbs to the cheese filling really adds something. I love using fresh mint. But you could also use thyme or oregano for example.
Okay, time to make the cheese pies!
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (374°F, conventional setting).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Prepare the kourou dough
- Mix together the yogurt and oil in a bowl. Set aside. You can use a whisk or simply a spoon and mix until they are more or less combined.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the cold, diced butter. Rub everything together using your fingertips or palms until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. It’s okay if there are some pea-sized butter chunks. If your kitchen is very warm, it might be easier to start with a pastry blender so the butter doesn’t melt. Alternatively, you could use kneading gloves.
- Add the yogurt mixture and cheese.
- Knead just until combined. Don’t overmix the dough or the oil will start to come out. Tip: It’s best to start mixing with a spoon as the dough will initially be quite sticky and wet. You can then use your hands when it’s easier to handle.
- Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the Feta filling
- Place the Feta cheese in a bowl and break it into small pieces with a fork.
- Add the egg, grated cheese and chopped mint leaves (if using). Season with black pepper if desired. Mix with a fork until creamy.
Shape the tiropitakia
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, about 48 g (1.7 oz.) of dough per piece.
To shape the tiropitakia:
- Roll each piece into a ball and place onto a small piece of parchment paper.
- Flatten with your hand to a circle of about 10 cm (4 inches). You can use a rolling pin and cookie cutter if you prefer.
- Spread about one tablespoon of filling (around 22 g/0.8 oz.) in the middle of the dough. Don’t fill the pie too much or you won’t be able to seal it.
- Using the parchment paper, carefully lift half of the dough and fold it over the other half.
- Gently press the edges with your fingers then seal using a fork.
- Place onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat for all the pieces. Use the parchment paper to easily lift the pie and roll it onto your hand. Tip: You can start baking the first batch (6 pies) while you prepare the remaining pies.
- Mix an egg yolk with a teaspoon of milk in a small bowl. Brush the pies with the egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds if desired. The egg wash gives color and shine to the pies. But you can simply brush with milk (for color) if you prefer.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool down slightly before serving.
And that’s it! Hope you enjoy!