Learn How to Make Traditional Croatian Baked Strukli

Tamara Novacoviç with step by step photos of how to make the traditional Croatian dish called strukli.
By Tamara Novacoviç

After all the holiday (over)eating, this is a great meal: nothing stewy and soupy, yet light and comforting.

Strukli (also called Zagorje strukli, because the dish originates from the Zagorje region of Croatia) is a traditional Croatian dish. They are a Croatian brand and an example of how simplicity can be attractive. There are 2 types of strukli: boiled and baked. I like them baked. I add a bit of grated cheese on top (although it’s not used in the traditional recipe).
Strukli are made of only a few ingredients. Ingredient that is most important is fresh cottage cheese: it has a fresh, slightly acidic taste and a refined taste of milk that is only really began to ferment.
You can take a look at this lovely video of how the traditional strukli are prepared by an expert (it’s not in English, but the preparation is really interesting and helpful).

My grandma taught me how to make strukli. I loved baking sessions with her. I would always get a piece of dough which I would knead and form myself. Then you would have her delightful creations and my “pieces of art” baking together. I remember being so proud of my first home made bread and buns.

Well, it took me a long, long time to make strukli myself. I was literally afraid of making this dough. And once again, my fear proved to be unreasonable. This dough is fun to make, you just need to be a bit more careful when handling and stretching it, but it’s not mission impossible, for sure. It’s not that tricky either.  There are a few tricks of the trade in preparing the dough for strukli (and sweet version called strudel). The most important rule is to make it almost paper thin, without breaking. However, if it happens to break, don’t fuss about it, just continue stretching it. Here are step by step photos, which I hope will encourage you to give this dish a try, because it’s great!

When kneading the dough, you can make it easy and putt it all in your stand mixer which will do the work. However, I wanted to show you our traditional, old-school way of making it: Sift flour onto clean working surface (I don’t always sift it), make a well in the middle and pour egg in that well. Then add the rest of the ingredients and using a fork form the dough. It’s important to knead the dough very well, in order to make it more elastic (it will stretch easier).

When you form the dough, divide into three parts, oil and let rest covered with warm pots.

You then take a clean tablecloth and dust with flour. Roll out each part of the dough with rolling pin as thin as possible. Then set it aside and start using your hands-with the bottom of your palms you pull the dough toward yourself, starting from the middle of the rolled out dough (not from ends).  You can oil the dough, in order tho make the stretching easier. Ensd will be thicker, but you will cut them out when you finish stretching. Do it gently and gradually, go in circles, repeat until the dough is thin, something like this:

Prepare the filling and put it over one half of the stretched dough.

Then roll it, using the tablecloth: take edges of the tablecloth and start rolling in the dough with it. You then divide the dough into equal parts using your palms. We do this to seal the edges.

Take a plate and cut the edges with it, in order to secure the filling inside.

This is the final product, which you can cook and make something resembling a stew, or bake like I did (I really like them baked). The same process and dough is used when making sweet strudel dessert.

Here is a piece of baked strukli:


4.0 from 4 reviews
Traditional Croatian baked strukli
 
This is comfort food and light meal all in one!
Author:
Recipe Type: Main
Ingredients
For the dough
  • 4 cups (500 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • some lukewarm water (about 0.4 cups or 100 ml)
For the filling
  • 20 oz (600 g) fresh cottage cheese
  • 3.3 oz (100 g) butter, softened + 2 tbsp
  • 4 eggs
  • 0.4 cups (100 ml) sour cream
  • salt
  • pepper
For the topping
  • sour cream
  • grated cheese
  • salt
  • some butter
Instructions
  1. Make the dough: this is the traditional way, but you can make it with your stand mixer too: Sift flour combined with salt onto clean working surface and make indentation in the middle. Put one egg into that indentation, add oil and combine all ingredients using fork. Mix some lukewarm water with vinegar and gradually add to the dough, until it all comes together. Knead the dough with hands until it's smooth-it should be smooth and elastic, not too soft and sticky. Divide dough into three equal parts, brush each with oil and cover with warm pot. Leave for 30 minutes.
  2. While the dough rests, prepare the filling: Mix softened butter with fresh cottage cheese, add eggs, sour cream, salt and pepper.
  3. Take a clean tablecloth and dust with some flour. Put 1 part of the dough onto it, roll out with rolling pin until thin and then begin stretching it with your palms. Be gentle and patient, stretch it from the middle. Don't stress out if it breaks. The dough should be thin, but for strukli you don't need to make it too thin (like when making strudel). Cut out thick edges. It's good to leave the dough for 15 minutes to dry slightly, but you can skip this step if you're in a hurry. Then sprinkle it with some melted butter. Brush the filling over the dough-brush only half of the dough. Roll it, using tablecloth-take a look at the video in the link above for this. Using your hands, separate the dough into equal parts and cut them with a plate. We do this instead of using knife in order to firmly seal the edges and ensure the filling doesn't pour out of strukli.
  4. Take a baking pan, brush it with some butter and assemble strukli in it.
  5. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  6. Make the topping: combine sour cream with some salt and pour it over strukli. Place a couple of cubes of butter on top and finish with some grated cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes, until nicely golden. Let cool slightly and serve warm.

 

Tamara Novakoviç

Tamara Novakoviç

Tamara Novakovic is a passionate self-taught cook, food blogger, freelance food writer and photographer behind bite-my-cake.blogspot.com. Her life journey has led her through Faculty of Humanities in Zagreb, Croatia to discovering passion for making cakes. She is currently a weekly food columnist for Croatian newspaper V magazine and food magazine Repete.

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38 Comments
  1. I grew up in Zagorje and I have to say this looks nothing like traditional baked strukli.

    Filo pastry should be light and flaky, it should crack when you take a bite. There is no pepper in the filling and grated cheese on top is almost a blasphemy.

    My grandmother is turning in her grave. :)

  2. Your grandmother made hers the same way mine did. I’ve never tried it baked but after reading this I think I’ll give it a try the next time I make it.

    Hvala!

  3. My mother and grandmother used to make this dish and it wasn’t baked it was more like a stew I suppose but theirs had chopped fried onions in with the cheese, but their both gone and I’m trying to remember how to do it their way by boiling it and I have an idea how it was done but the gravy was made out of a rue am I correct

  4. It’s funny how people who move away from a place assume that how their family cooks/bakes something is “the authentic” way to do it, when in reality, every family does it differently :)

    This recipe sounds nice, I might give it a shot soon! Do you know what the vinegar does for the dough?

  5. Puno Hvala Tamara, as for the ones here whining about the filling, my grandmother never used peper in her Struklji neither but some people make Burek (similar to struklji but not the same)and fill it with *insert anything here* and call it struklji, I have had to endure and complain about sweet Struklji (sorry but yuck) I like the traditional salty ones (Traditional as in traditional to me) now all I can do is miss my grandmother, thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    Tihomir

  6. You are very welcome and please keep updating with new recipes.
    I think no one will complain for a few more recipes.
    Like maybe how to make “Domaci sir” like in this recipe :)

  7. Thank you for your recipe, I was in Zagorje last summer and what most people tend to forget is that Strukli, and burek are not the same thing, although they are similar, burek has the pepper and strukli are most famous buy the salty ones made from home made cheese, we in Canada use cottage cheese but its not the same and what makes the difference is that they bake them in the Pekas or majority of the people still bake them in the wood stoves. “big difference. Also depending what region you are from, we have adopted recipes from our neighbouring countries, the Turks, Austrians and so forth. But in any case it is nice to see traditional recipes being posted

  8. I was wondering if you could tell of a dessert, my friend calls it “Slevie” not sure of the spelling. She said that they are fill with cottage, fruit etc. Folder up and baked in a pan. Hope you can help me. Thanks , Kay

  9. I’m from Zagreb, and this is very similar to how my grandmother made them! I think she just poached them without baking, though. My aunt bakes them, and they’re delicious that way too :-) Though I will have to join the pepper-free hoards, though. I take no issue with individual tastes and modifying recipes to suit, but I’ve never had it with pepper in the filling. Might try it and see what I think!

  10. While I’m here, I have a question: Do you think this could work with spelt flour? I need to avoid wheat (though for foods like this one, I’m inclined to just think “Stuff it!” and eat it anyway), and spelt is one of my alternative options.

  11. Tamara, I grew up here in the US with a lot of Croatian ladies in the neighborhood including my Grandmother. All of the ladies made Strukli and there were as many variations as Croatian ladies. Wonderful recipe that I am glad to have found.

  12. I am of Croatian decent. I am proud of my heritage. Unfortunately, my Croatian relatives have all passed away when I was very young. I am so happy to find Croatian recipes here! I want my children to know the traditions, traits and foods of their Croatian heritage. I’m thankful for this recipe any which way it is made. Thank you everyone for sharing!

  13. What wonderful recipes. More more more please! I’ve sent this link to family and friends. My mum’s from Zagorje and this was the meal I always asked for when it was my birthday. Mum also boiled it and served it with veal in a gorgeous mushroom sauce! Yum!!!

  14. I am so glad people with Croatian roots, who live abroad, are contacting me through these recipes! Thank you for commenting and I am really glad you like the recipes and find some beautiful memories in them!

  15. Hi Tamara,
    I am 100% Croatian and enjoy making foods from my childhood that reflect my heritage. My mom used to make “plum dumplings’ and cheese and prune perogi that I just loved. She would put a sweet sour cream sauce on top of both dishes that make them incredibly yummy. I don’t have a recipe for that sauce and have been unable to find one. Do you know of such a sauce? If so, could you please email the recipe.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your recipes and plan to make some of them this winter.
    Thanks for continuing to show interest in Croatia and its recipes.
    Sincerely,
    Margie Moke

  16. Bok Tamara!

    I found your website per chance and I’m glad I did! I’m Croatian by marriage and after 17 years have still not made strukli (out of fear of the pastry!!!). I will be trying it soon as my girls’ school is asking me to make some Croatian food for UN day. Yikes! No pressure! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    Best regards,

    Anita Dijakovic

  17. Bok Anita! So glad you found me here on Honest Cooking and glad you like the recipe!
    I was also afraid pf this dough but I tell you, no pressure, just a little practice, and it’s actually fun to make! Maybe you and your girls can make it together :) Anyway, if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, I am glad to help :)

  18. Dunja, I suppose you could make them with spelt flour, but I’m not sure how it would affect the dough, it wouldn’t be so elastic. I’m sure they’d be harder in the end and thicker

  19. Hi Tamara
    I am well known chef and publisher of Croatian cookbooks I sold thousands of struklis at my famous Croatian Food Festivals but always steamed with melted butter.
    I just returned from my visit to Croatia and had the best baked struklis ever at famous hotel Esplanade with my friend also famous personality Amelia Tomasevic
    good luck Dennis

  20. Tamara,

    Thanks for posting your recipes, just came back from Zagreb and ate at La Struk twice in the week. Baked was exquisite! Will try your recipe this weekend…craving more.

  21. I live in Canada now but was born and raised in Zagreb Croatia. My grandmother was from Gregurovec, hearth of Zagorje and she made hers both baked and boiled with or without pepper she also often added grated green pumpkin during summertime. Her pumpkin strukli were famous Zagreb wide, she would often go and make them at different peoples homes for special occasions. For the ones that live in Canada or US, mix softer blocks of cottage cheese with Feta cheese and organic sour cream and let it sit outside most of the day, put it in a plastic container and let it sit in fridge for few days before using. In reality there is no right or wrong way of making Zagorski Strukli, she made about 10 different versions off them depending on the time of the year by adding vegetables to it and making a meal of them at lean times.
    Thanks for the recipe Tamara I have lost hers years ago and have been using filo pastry from Ethnic stores here in Hamilton ONT.

  22. I live in Australia but was born in zapresic Croatia and I remember my mom making strukli.we do these things here but you never get the same taste because mom made her own cream and cheese from our cows milk.cheese was fresh and more moist than cottage or ricotta and cream was somewhat thiner and it was a sour cream. there was no such thing as thickened cream or preservative in any food at thr time.

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