As the Christian Orthodox community celebrated Easter on last Sunday, we take you through the baking steps of one of the traditional pastry made for Easter by the Greek Cypriots : the Flaouna. It’s basically a cheese filled pastry garnished with sesame seeds. Each village and each home has its own recipe that is transferred from one generation to another.
As we walked through the traditional Choirokoita village in the Lanarca district (South Cyprus), we were lucky to be invited at the Allokoto café or « Dimoulla’s house », where we attended a baking workshop organised by Rigenas Traditional Workshops. Choroikoita is famous for its own Flaouna that has the unique combination of dried mint, fresh goat cheese, farm eggs, herbs ((Masticha – mastic resin ; Mahlepi – Greek herb) and other local products.
Flaounes (Cypriot Easter Cheese filled Bread)
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Resting time: 60 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 10 – 12
For the dough
- 2 kilos (4.40 lbs) bread or all-purpose flour
- 50 grams (1.76 oz) sourdough or fresh yeast
- 1 ½ cups of spry (or other vegetable shortening) or olive oil
- 8 mastic resins, pounded with 1 tsp of sugar
- 8 grams mahleb grains, pounded
- Lukewarm milk (about 3 cups)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the filling
- 1.250 grams (2.75 lbs) Pafitiko or goat cheese
- ½ cup fine semolina
- 25 grams (0.90 oz) fresh yeast
- 1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped (or 6 tbsp dried mint)
- 10 – 12 eggs
- 8 pounded mastic resins
- 8 pounded mahleb grains
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the egg wash
- 2 beaten egg yolks
- 4 tbsp milk
- 350 grams (12.35 oz) sesame seeds
- Pound mastic and mahleb together adding a teaspoon of flour or sugar.
- Grate the cheese and mix with semolina, baking powder, mastic, mahleb and mint. Dissolve the sourdough or yeast with 2 eggs (at room temperature) and mix with the cheese. Add the remaining eggs, one by one, mixing until the cheese have become a firm mixture. Less or more eggs may be required depending if cheese are moist or not. Cover with a towel or cling film and refrigerate.
- Next day add two more eggs and mix the mixture to become soft and fluffy and leave it for an hour to rest.
- In the meantime prepare the dough. Mix flour, salt, pounded mastic and mahleb, add butter and oil and rub into the flour using your fingertips until oil and butter are absorbed and looks like bread crumbs. Make a well and pour yeast which you have previously dissolved in lukewarm milk. Add remaining lukewarm milk gradually and knead until dough thickens and does not stick on your hands. Cover with cling film and cover with a woolen cloth and leave for about an hour to rise. The procedure can also be made in a stand mixer.
- Add the sesame seeds in a plate or tray.
- Roll out the dough and make the phyllo round, about the size of a plate. Place the dough on the sesame seeds and press the dough gently, so that sesame may stick on the dough. Reverse the dough and place a few spoonfuls of filling in the centre of the dough. Fold the sides to form either a square or triangle shape but leaving the centre uncovered.
- Using a fork, press the four corners (or three for triangle ones) of the dough to join. Place each flaouna on clean tablecloths or sheets and cover again with tablecloth and leave them to rise.
- Remove them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Beat the eggs with the milk and some sesame seeds and brush them with the egg wash, all over, including the filling on top.
- Preheat oven to 180o C /350o F and bake them for about 25 minutes, then lower the heat to 150oC / 302o F and bake until golden brown.
(source : www.kopiaste.org)
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