April is the month for Easter celebrations, so here comes an Easter bread Flaounes. 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. 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. 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. Few substitutes for Flaounes cheese are Cypriot/ Greek cheeses like Kefalotyri, Kefalogravier or Kaskavali. Other cheeses include Halloumi, English Cheddar, Italian cheeses like Parmesan, Romanelo or Pressato (mild), Pecorino (salty) or French Cantal cheese. Aparna (We Knead to Bake – WNTB) has suggested a combination of Cheddar, Mozzarella and Paneer, i used the same and thanks to you for the wonderful recipe suggestion as always!!!.
A Beautiful flower at our backyard that attracted today 🙂
Steps to Follow
1st Step :- Allow the dough to raise in room temperature for first proof (1-2 hours).
2nd Step :- Refrigerate the dough for second proof at least 2 hours to overnight.
3rd Step :- Make the filling and refrigerate till use.
4th Step :- Shape the bread, stuff the filling and again keep it in room temperature for last proof (40 minutes).
5th Step :- Brush the top of breads and bake.
Yields :- This recipe makes 8 or 10 Flaounes, about the size of one’s palm
Recipe Source :- Adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox
For the Dough
All Purpose Flour – 2n1/2 Cups
Dry Active Or Instant Yeast – 3/4tsp
Salt – 3/4tsp
Sugar – 1n1/2 tsp
Masticm – ½ tsp, ground in a mortar (Optional)
Ground Mahleb – ¼ tsp (Optional)
Egg – 1 Number
Milk – 1/4 Cup
Butter – 60gms, melted and cooled
Lukewarm water – 1/4 cup (or less) or as needed
Oil, for greasing bowl and rolling dough
For the Filling
Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese – 1 Cup (a somewhat sharp cheddar adds flavour)
Grated Mozzarella Cheese – 1/4 Cup
Crumbled Paneer – 1/3 Cup (Fresh Indian Milk Cheese)
All Purpose Flour – 2tsp
Semolina (not semolina flour) – 1/4 Cup
Dry mint – 1 Tbsp (use 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint if available)
Crushed Black Pepper/ Red Chilli Flakes – 1/2tsp (Optional)
Raisins or Currants – 1/8 Cup (Optional)
Baking Powder – 3/4tsp
Milk – 1 to 2 Tbsp
1/3 to 1/2 cup untoasted sesame seeds
1 egg, beaten OR
1 tbsp flour + less than 1/8 cup milk (for sealing paste)
A little milk for brushing (or egg wash from beaten egg above)
- First make the dough, Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and the flavouring ingredients (if you have them) into the bowl and pulse in food processor a couple of times to mix.
- Whisk together the egg, 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 (Pic 1).
- 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 (or egg if you’re using it) 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, just moist rather than wet.
Step 4 (Shape the Flaounes)
- Divide the dough into 8-10 equal pieces, i made 10 pieces, 60 grams each approximately.
- Lightly oil your work surface and rolling pin. Then roll each piece into a 4.5 to 6” round.
- The round of dough should be thinner rather than thick(Pic 2). 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 8-10 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 (Pic 2).
- You can make triangular or square Flaounes, and 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(Pic 3 and 4) and partially fold over the filling, one after the other, leaving the uncovered. Use the paste of flour and milk (or beaten egg) 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(Pic 5).
- Do not pinch the flaps together like for Hamantaschen as they will come apart as they rise. I learnt this the hard way!
- 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 (or beaten egg) 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.
- These pies keep for two days at room temperature in an airtight container. You can freeze the extras to eat later.
Can check the video here.