Eggless Flaounes (Cypriot Savoury Easter Cheese Pies) :We Knead To Bake #16

Since 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.

Flaounes 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.

Flaounes 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.

Some 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.

If 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. 

There 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.

Black 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 Pies)
Adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox 

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
½ tsp mastic, ground in a mortar (optional) - I did not use
¼ tsp ground mahleb, (optional) - I did not use
1 tablespoon Egg replacer ,dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup milk
60gm butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup (or less) lukewarm water, or as needed
Oil, for greasing bowl and rolling dough

 For the filling:

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (a somewhat sharp cheddar adds flavour)
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup crumbled paneer (fresh Indian milk cheese)
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina (not semolina flour)
 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper/ red chilli flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon Oregano[my addition,not in the original recipe]
1/8 cup raisins or currants (optional)- I did not add
 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 to 2 tbsp milk

For sealing paste - 1 tbsp flour + less than 1/8 cup milk 

For Coating :1/3 to 1/2 cup untoasted sesame seeds

A 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 mix. 

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 pies.

Place 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.

 Once it 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.

Mix 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.

The filling should be somewhat like a stiff paste, joust moist rather than wet.

Now 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.

Divide 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.

You 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 fork.]

For 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 rise.

[See this link/ video which shows this procedure]

Place 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 puffed up.

Let them cool on a rack.

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 later.

Bon Appetit....

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