• 6 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup pickled cucumbers, diced
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 cup feta cheese, diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried savory, optional
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds, optional

Solen keks is literally a salty cake. Many versions of it are available, as it can be readily made with easy ingredients that you can find in your fridge. Basically, it is a chunky version of the Marzeliva Banitsa (or Lazy banitsa) because it is full of diced ham, cheese and whatever vegetables that the Bulgarian housewife could find in her fridge.

Therefore, there are many different recipes that could apply under the name Solen keks. Basically, you can replace the diced ingredients with any vegetables you have handy, such as green peas, mushrooms, onions, carrots, etc. You can also make a vegetarian version without the ham. As long as you keep in some cheese (for the saltiness), you can replace the Bulgarian feta cheese with a hard cheese chopped in dice, such as Bulgarian kashkaval, or cheddar for instance. You can also replace the pickled cucumbers with gherkins or any other pickled vegetable of your choice, as long as you have something that gives it a little tangy sour taste.

The recipe you find here is from a friend of mine, Marina, whose grandmother used to make it for all family reunions.

Directions

  1. Separate egg yolks and egg whites from all eggs into 2 bowls.
  2. Beat the yolks with a mixer, gradually adding 1 cup of sunflower or olive oil, until smooth. Adding a pinch of salt to the egg yolks can help achieve a smooth and glossy texture.
  3. Add 1 cup of Bulgarian yogurt and mix again.
  4. Mix flour with 1 tsp of baking powder and add gradually to the eggs while mixing.
  5. With a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir in gently 1 cup of each from all diced ingredients: fresh carrots, pickled cucumbers (or gherkins if you prefer extra sweetness), ham, and finally Bulgarian feta cheese (stirring it in carefully to not break up the chunks into powder).
  6. Optionally, at this stage you can add in some typical bulgarian spices, such as 1/2 teaspoon dried savory or dried caraway seeds, or both, to bring out a delicious aroma from your salty cake.
  7. In the second bowl, whip egg whites in snow with a pinch of salt, until they form soft peaks. Then, carefully spoon them into the cake mix with the wooden spoon or spatula, making sure not to break them and keep them fluffy.
  8. Take an ovenproof baking dish and grease and flour the bottom and the sides. Pour the salty cake mix into the dish.
  9. Preheat the oven at 175°C (350°F) and place the solen keks on the middle rack. Bake for more or less 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is well-cooked and golden all-over. Test cake by picking with a toothpick that should come out clean if ready.
  10. Take solen keks out of the oven and let it cool a bit before serving.

Solen keks is like banitsa, it can be served in many ways. You can slice in bigger or smaller pieces. Enjoy it warm as a main dish with a side of salad, or save it in the fridge for a cold lunch instead of a sandwich, accompanied by ayran. You can also cube solen keks in small bite-size pieces and serve as an appetizer. Try it at your next party!