Baked muğabbana Cheese Pies

The term muğabbana comes from the Arabic word ğban, which means “cheese,” and from which the term almojabana (cheese buns) derives. But this “Recipe for oven-baked cheese pie” from the Kitāb al-tabīh is more similar to an empanada, as it has the shape of a small stuffed slipper. The recipe title calls it “Toledan,” and we know that the Spanish city of Toledo had a significant Jewish community in the late Middle Ages. This dish took many shapes, and similar ones were prepared by the Sephardim of Turkey and of the Ottoman Empire.


Baked muğabbana Cheese Pies (Dough)

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (300g) flour
  • 1 tsp (3 g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (75g) soft butter/margarine

Baked muğabbana Cheese Pies (Stuffing)

  • 1 cup (150 g) beyaz peynir cheese (or you can substitute feta)
  • 1 tsp (3 g) salt
  • 1 onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) olive oil (optional)

PREP TIME: 20 min

COOK TIME: 20 min

TOTAL TIME: 40 min


Baked muğabbana Cheese Pies

The original recipe only tells us to make the dough, spread it, and place just the right amount of crushed cheese in the middle, then fold the edges of the dough to completely cover the cheese. I will give a few more directions here.

  1. Mix all the dough ingredients and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. For the stuffing, crumble the cheese and add the other ingredients into a bowl. Make sure not to overmix.
  3. Roll out the dough quite thickly to about 3 mm (⅛ inch) and cut it into circles with a cookie cutter roughly the size of a fist.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and shape the muğabbana directly onto it. In the lower part of each circle, put a spoonful of cheese stuffing. Very lightly moisten the rim with water. Gently close by folding down the upper part. Press all around the dough with the teeth of a fork to close the muğabbana. Finally, make a small hole in the highest part of the muğabbana and sprinkle it with anise seeds.
  5. Bake in a hot 375°F (190°C) oven for 10–15 minutes.