April is the month for Easter celebrations Aparna thought it would be appropriate to
bake an Easter bread. Most of Europe has a tradition of
baking rich buttery and eggy sweet breads for Easter and this Easter bread from
Cyprus is much the same except that it is savoury.
are savoury cheese pies baked for Greek Orthodox Easter, traditionally made on
Good Friday, and are part of the fast-breaking meal after Lent when meat and
cheese are not eaten. The cheese that is traditionally used in these pies is
called “Flaounes” cheese which is cheese that is produced locally by Cypriot
shepherds, and very difficult to find outside the country.
cheese can be substituted with a combination of Cheddar or similar hard cheeses
and a softer, milder one like Halloumi. The cheese filling tends to be salty so
choose one cheese which is quite salty.
of the cheeses suggested as substitutes for Flaounes cheese are Cypriot/ Greek
cheeses like Kefalotyri, Kefalogravier or Kaskavali. Other cheeses include
Halloumi, English Cheddar, Italian cheeses likeParmesan, Romanelo or Pressato
(mild), Pecorino (salty) or French Cantal cheese.
any of these are available (and affordable) in your part of the world use them,
otherwise find a combination of cheeses that will work for you.
are a couple of ingredients used in Flaounes which are typical of these Cypriot
Cheese Pies and they are Mahleb and Mastic. Mahleb is made by powdering the
dried pits of a wild Mediterranean cherry. Mastic is the dried resin of a kind of
shrub. Both these spices are quite common in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine, and
if you cannot find them, then just leave them out as there’s no real substitute
for the flavours.
pepper or chilli flakes are not traditionally used in these Easter pies but I added them because the filling tasted too bland to me. So leave that out if you
want. Also remember to grate your cheese coarse rather than fine.
Flaounes (Cypriot Savoury Easter Cheese
cups all-purpose flour
mastic, ground in a mortar (optional) - I did not use
ground mahleb, (optional) - I did not use
1 tablespoon Egg replacer ,dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water
butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup (or less) lukewarm water, or as needed
for greasing bowl and rolling dough
grated cheddar cheese (a somewhat sharp cheddar adds flavour)
cup grated mozzarella cheese
cup crumbled paneer (fresh Indian milk cheese)
cup semolina (not semolina flour)
1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
tsp crushed black pepper/ red chilli flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon Oregano[my addition,not in the original recipe]
cup raisins or currants (optional)- I did not add
For sealing paste - 1
tbsp flour + less than 1/8 cup milk
For Coating :1/3 to
1/2 cup untoasted sesame seeds
little milk for brushing
First make the dough. I used my food processor but
you can knead by hand. Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and the flavouring
ingredients (if you have them) into the bowl and pulse a couple of times to
Whisk together the egg replaced solution, milk and melted butter in a small bowl and add it
to the flour.
Knead, adding just enough water, till you have a soft, smooth and
elastic dough which is just short of sticky.
Add water/ flour as necessary to
get this consistency of dough. Too much flour will spoil the texture of the
the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat it well. Cover loosely and let
the dough rise for about 1 to 2 hours, until it is double in volume.
has risen, deflate the dough by pressing it out and folding it a few times.
Then place it in a container (the dough will rise so use a large enough
container), cover loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours. You can leave this
in the fridge overnight too, if you want to make these pies in two stages.
While the dough is sitting for the first
rise, make the filling.
all the ingredients for the filling, except the milk with a fork. If you’re not using the filling immediately, keep it aside and
add the milk only when you’re ready to use the filling.
filling should be somewhat like a stiff paste, joust moist rather than wet.
shape the Flaounes. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (10 if you want
slightly smaller pies). Lightly oil your work surface and rolling pin. Then
roll each piece into a 5 to 6” round. The round of dough should be thinner
rather than thick. If it is too thick you will have a very “bready” pie, but
make sure that your round of dough is not too thin to support/ carry the weight
of the filling.
the filling also into 8 (or 10) portions. Spread the sesame seeds on a largish
plate and place the round of dough on it, in the centre, and press down lightly.
This makes for an easy way to coat the Flaounes with sesame seeds. Now place the
round on your working surface and put one portion of filling (about a generous
tablespoon full of it) in the middle of the round of dough and spread it
lightly, leaving about 1” free at the edge.
can make triangular or square Flaounes, and I personally feel that the square
ones (more traditional) were less bready and nicer to eat. For the square ones,
fold the two opposite edges over the filling leaving the centre exposed. Now
fold over the other two edges as well so you have a square pocket with the
filling showing at the centre. Press down the sealed points with the tines of a
the triangular Flaounes, pull up the edges of the dough at three points and
partially fold over the filling, one after the other, leaving the uncovered.
Use the paste of flour and milk to seal the flaps of dough
well. Press down the sealed points with the tines of a fork. It is important to
seal the pies well or they will open up during the second rise/ baking. Do not
pinch the flaps together like for Hamantaschen as they will come apart as they
the shaped pies on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2 to 3” between
them, and let them rise for about 40 minutes.
Just before baking them, brush
the sides (dough part) with milk and bake the Flaounes at 190C
(375F) for 25 to 30 minutes till they’re done, golden and the cheese filling is
Serve them warm or at room temperature.
This recipe makes
8 or 10 Flaounes, about the size of one’s palm. These pies keep for two days at
room temperature in an airtight container. You can freeze the extras to eat
Labels: * We Knead To Bake, Breads, Italian Cuisine, Other Eggless Bakes, Oven Fresh Eggless Bakes, Paneer