Prekmurska Gibanica

This layered cake, alternating strudel pastry with nuts, apples, poppy seeds and cheese, is a festive Slovenian specialty that takes its name from the region of Prekmurje in the northeast corner of the country.  Yes, it’s complicated, but it’s worth every bite. (Recipe courtesy of Mateja Kavaš)


  • 2 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups water, mixed with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in large bowl to form a medium-dense dough. Separate into 10 loaves and place on sheet pans. Brush each with a thin layer of oil. Cover and let rest at least 30 minutes before stretching each into a thin layer to fit a baking sheet.


Poppy seed filling:

  • 8 ounces poppy seeds, ground
  • ½ cup milk, hot
  • 5 tablespoons sugar or mix or regular and vanilla sugar

In small bowl, pour milk over poppy seeds and mix in sugar.

Cheese filling:

  • 1 pound cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl.

Walnut filling:

  • ½ pound walnuts, ground
  • 1 cup milk, hot
  • 5 tablespoons sugar or mix of regular and vanilla sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon

In medium bowl, pour hot milk over walnuts and mix in sugar and cinnamon.

Apple filling:

  • 1 pound apples
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Lemon zest, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

Peel the apples, cut into small segments and stew with 2 tablespoons sugar until quite soft. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest or lemon juice.


  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place first sheet of strudel pastry on greased baking sheet. Spread with half of poppy-seed filling. Place the second strudel pastry on top. Brush with melted butter. Spread half of cheese filling over top and cover with a third layer of pastry. Brush with melted butter. Spread half walnut filling on top and cover with a fourth layer of pastry. Brush with melted butter. Spread half apple filling on top and brush with melted butter.

Repeat the whole process with the remaining fillings. Finish with one or two layers of pastry. Pour cream over top layer.

Bake for approximately 1 hour.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Blair K. says:

    I had this once, in Slovenia, and it was luscious! I do make potica, another Slovenian speciality, but this does look intimidating. Does it work best with dry curd cottage cheese, I wonder?

    1. Rebecca says:

      It’s really no different than regular potica, so don’t be intimated! Dry curd cottage cheese would probably be better, since some regular curd cottage cheese can be rather watery.

  2. Rachel says:

    I made this dish this weekend and it was great, but I do have some things to say about how the recipe worked out for me; it also may be helpful to know I’m Nebraskan with Bohemian roots and like desserts that aren’t too sweet. Firstly, the dough loaves were very watery and almost impossible to work with–I recommend adding much less than 2 cups water to start. The walnut layer was also too watery and I had to put it through a sieve to get the right consistency. Furthermore, 1 lb was not enough apples to get two layers out of. Secondly, it is not very sweet at all, and whilst I like less sugary desserts, I did add cream over top of this one (post-baking) and sprinkled sugar over it. Next time, I would add more sugar to the poppyseed layer and sprinkle some on top (pre-baking). Lastly, it took five hours to make, but it wasn’t hard per se, just very involved. Filled a huge dish (14″ glass pan) and weighed a ton. Very hearty! The flavors were delish.

    1. Kate says:

      Hi Rachel! Thanks for the thoughtful comments! Like many of Mateja’s recipes, I suspect this one was handed down through the generations (like the kolach recipe I have from my Nebraska Bohemian grandmother!), so directions assume knowledge. It probably only needs that much water if the flour and house are very dry–though the dough is supposed to be tacky. We watched Mateja’s mom make strukli one time, and the measurements were based on a coffee cup she had handy. But she knew how the dough was supposed to feel, and added ingredients accordingly.

      Slovenian desserts are not terribly sweet. But no one will complain if you add a little more sugar and apples! I always mess a little around the edges of recipes!

      Let us know how the next one works out!

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