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Cypriot Flaounes

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Flaounes are definitely a must for our family during the Easter holidays. And I’m not talking our immediate family, I’m talking EVERYONE. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and any visiting guests that happen to pass by. The making of these cheesy, minty pastries was traditionally led by my Yiayia, but since she passed away early this year, the ladies of our family have made it our own to continue the tradition.

Supplying our large family (who all love these Easter treats) is a bit of a mission so it would be crazy to try it alone. You should have about 5 people helping out (or even more depending on how big your workspace is). Soon enough you’ll be lost in chatter and laughter and won’t even realise you’ve made a mountain of Flaounes.

This recipe will make around 50 pastries but in our family, we aim for about 100 or more and normally would double this recipe. The key is to have all the prep work done in advance and then the process is fairly straight forward.

I recently learnt that you can buy Flaounes in cafes in Cyprus all year round…so it’s fair to say, you don’t need to wait for Easter to give these a go. There are many recipes and family variations, especially on how you fold them. We’ve even started to make them in muffin tins which look beautiful and stay moist.

So hands washed, aprons on and let’s get started! xx

INGREDIENTS:

Pastry

1.25kg plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground finely masticha*
1 teaspoon ground mechlepi*
¼ teaspoon finely ground salt
400g unsalted butter, chopped into little cubes
3 eggs
1 cup water
½ cup milk

Filling

60g fresh yeast or 3 sachets of dried yeast
125ml milk warmed
1 teaspoon sugar
750g cheddar cheese finely grated
750g pecorino cheese finely grated
800g haloumi cheese finely grated
1 cup semolina
2 tablespoon dried mint leaves or a large handful of fresh mint
½ teaspoon ground machlepi*
¼ teaspoon masticha*
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs

Glaze

300g sesame seeds (brought to a boil, then strained and spread on a tea towel)
4 eggs lightly beaten

*Masticha (also known as mastic) is the hardened resin from a small evergreen tree found on the Greek island of Chios. It is used to flavor Greek and Cypriot baked goods, sweets, drinks and ice-cream.

*Mechlepi (also known as mahleb) is a spice made from ground cherry pits. It is available in small pips so you grind to a fine powder or you can purchase the powdered form of Mechlepi. I buy the ready ground. Both of these spices should not be replaced and you’ll usually find them in a greek, italian or middle eastern deli.

METHOD

Measure all of your ingredients and have them ready prior to starting. The first step is to start your filling before the pastry because it’s got to rest for up to 2hrs.

Filling

  1. Get a very large mixing bowl (or two). Remember once you add the yeast, your mixture will double in size.
  2. Place the warm milk, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Stir until the yeast is combined.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to double in size. (about 15 minutes)
  4. Place all the cheeses, mint, spices, semolina, into the bowl and mix until all the ingredients are combined well. We normally use our hands!
  5. Add the eggs and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  6. The mixture should be soft and smooth. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let stand until double in size. Generally, this may take 1.5-2hours so it’s a good time for a coffee and a snack!
  7. Add the baking powder just before you’re ready to start the assembly and mix thoroughly.

While the filling is proving you can get started on the pastry.

Pastry

  1. Sift the flour, machlepi, masticha, salt, baking powder into a large bowl.
  2. Rub the unsalted butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  3. Add the eggs, water, and milk.
  4. With your hands, mix the dough until it is soft, smooth and elastic.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes (or longer is fine)

Assembly

  1. Roll out the pastry to no thicker than 3mm.
  2. Using a large glass or pastry cutter cut into rounds around 10cm.
  3. Dip one side of the pastry lightly in the sesame seeds.
  4. On the opposite side, place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the centre of the round.
  5. Fold each side to make a square shape or any shape you desire. In any case, you want to leave a small section of the filling exposed. Place each Flaoua on a baking tray lined with paper or non-stick spray.
  6. Glaze the flaouna with the lightly beaten egg.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven and 200°C for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Don’t open the oven door whilst cooking otherwise your flaounes will flatten.
  8. Let them cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven. Flaounes also freeze really well, so they’re a good snack to have ready to go and you can just zap them in the oven or microwave. Happy Easter!

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