11 ottobre 2013

Flaounes - Cypriot Easter Bread - Focaccine al formaggio

 la ricetta in italiano qui

I have tried a very nice recipe for the Cypriot trip of the European Culinary ABC, a special celebrating bread and as I'm very fond of baking, as soon as I saw it I said that's mine!
Very delicious indeed, I was having guests for lunch that day and they really loved these cheese tartellettes.

Flaouna or flaounes in the plural is a special Easter food eaten on the island of Cyprus by the mainly Orthodox Greeks. They are a cheese filled pastry, which sometimes also include raisins or can be garnished with sesame seeds.
Flaounes have been made in Cyprus for ages and serve as a celebratory food for the breaking of the lenten fast. They are traditionally prepared on the Good Friday for consumption on Easter Sunday by Orthodox Christians They are eaten in place of bread on Easter Sunday, and continue to be made and eaten for the weeks following. Creating the flaounes can often be a family tradition shared with multiple generations.
The Guinness World Records holds a record for the largest flaouna ever made. It was set on 11 April 2012 by the company Carrefour in Limassol. The pastry measured 2.45 metres (8.0 ft) long and 1.24 metres (4.1 ft) wide, weighing 259.5 kilograms (572 lb). As part of the celebrations, 20 percent of sales of flaounes in Carrefour stores on the day in Cyprus, went to charity.
 Flaounes are a cheese filled pastry interspersed with cheese. The pastry is described as similar to shortcrust in texture. The cheese can be a mix of Graviera, Halloumi, Mizithra and/or Kefalotyri. Outside of Europe, these cheeses can sometimes be referred to as flaouna cheese. Depending on the area of island in which they are made, the recipes vary so that the pastries are either salty, semi-sweet or sweet. They can also sometimes have sesame seeds sprinkled on top or sultanas interspersed with the cheese (from Wikipedia).

flaounes-focaccine formaggio-cypriot easter bread

I adapted the recipe from this original one, omitting two original Greek ingredients: mastic and malhepi (o mahlab, see below for explanations).
I was a little suspicious for the mint in the filling (but mint is often used in Cypriot cuisine, it's one of their main ingredient), but had to change my mind as it goes super well with cheese.
Do have a look at the videos on how to make the folds of the dough (you can also do triangular), it's very useful and interesting if you want to try to repeat the recipe: first, second, third video .
I used half dough for the traditional flaounes following the video instructions, but also tried to make mini fingerfood tarts using the non-stick muffin shaped tin (lightly brushed with oi, just in case :-), putting a disc of dough bigger than the mold, with edges up on the sides, then folding the edge to the center after putting the filling in the middle.
I made some larger  tarts with the appropriate mold, but you could also use the disposable aluminum ones.

flaounes-focaccine formaggio-cypriot easter bread
mini tartellettes made in muffin molds

flaounes-focaccine formaggio-cypriot easter bread
 10 cm diameter tartellettes


500 g all purpose flour
15 g fresh yeast
2 tablespoons barley malt
30 g extra virgin olive oil
30 g soft butter
150 g water, room temperature
100 g warm milk (even vegetable)
1 teaspoon salt


600 g mixed cheese *
70 g  all purpose flour
90 g semolina flour
2 g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
chopped fresh mint
3 eggs, beaten
80 g raisins, soaked and dried

The original recipe calls for 2,5 g mastic and 5 g malhepi in the filling.
Mastic is the hardened resin from a small evergreen tree found mainly on the Greek island of Chios. It is used to flavour Greek and Cypriot baked goods, sweets, drinks and ice-cream. It’s available from Greek food stores and good delicatessens.
Mahlepi (or mahlab) is a spice made from ground cherry pits. It is usually sold whole and needs to be ground using a mortar and pestle before using. Use it to add a sweet, spicy fragrance to sweet breads. They are both available from Greek food stores.
You can substitute with a pinch of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamome.


a beaten egg to brush
black and white sesame seeds

* mainly pecorino cheese and haloumi

flaounes-focaccine formaggio-cypriot easter bread

Dissolve yeast in water, add milk and oil.
Pour the flour into a large bowl , make a well in the center and pour into the liquids and butter. Start kneading taking a little flour at a time. Transfer on the working surface and work well to obtain a homogeneous mixture.
Using a kneader the work is not tiring at all!
Make a ball and let it rest in a greased bowl, covered and in a warm place until doubled.
Prepare the filling by scraping the cheese coarsely and place in a bowl with the flour and yeast, then add the beaten eggs and mix well. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use (better if done the day before, all the flavors will deeply amalgamate). Only then combine with chopped fresh mint and raisins.
Place the sesame seeds on a plate.
Transfer the dough on a work surface , divide in half and form a roll for each piece. Divide each roll into 6/8 pieces.
Flatten each piece of dough into a disk about 18 cm in diameter, about 3 mm  thick, press it on the sesame plate so the seeds will stick on the bottom of the pastry, put a large spoonful of mixture in the center and bring back the flaps of dough towards the center, sealing the corners with the prongs of a fork, as shown in the video.
Otherwise you can roll out the dough to a thickness of 3 mm and cut the discs with a round mold (a tea cup saucer will fit). Any leftover dough can be mixed and roll out again, maybe for the minitartellettes.
Transfer the scones on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with some more seeds, mostly in the center .
Bake for about 30 minutes at 180° , until the cheese melts and the pastries becomes golden.
Flaounes can be served both hot or cold, I prefer them warm.
If you decide to do minitartellettes in the muffins mold , reduce cooking time to about 20 minutes.

This recipe also goes to Susan's weekly YeastSpotting

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