This was one of the bakes from book marks that I was looking forward to make for a long time. This pie was so interesting when Aparna had chosen this for one of our group bakes last year. I was not able to do this then and had it bookmarked to try. Finally got to it and we loved it.
Flaounes is bread/pie baked during the Easter month in the Cyprus region of Europe. While most of the Easter breads are sweet, this one is the savory cheese pie baked for Greek orthodox Easter. This flaounes recipe is made by a slow rising process that allows the flavors to develop. There are also sweet versions of the flaounes.
The cheese used traditionally for these pies is locally produced by the Cypriot shepherds (it’s made with sheep’s cheese) and is very hard to find outside of the country. These pies are made in large quantities during Easter and all the family get together and make a large batch of it. The flaounes also freeze really well.
The cheese for flaounes can be substituted with a combination of a hard cheese and a soft cheese. I was able to find Halloumi in our local market. Halloumi is a semi hard cheese made with goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. The cheese was pretty salty which worked well for the recipe. I mixed it up with some mozzarella cheese and used in the recipe. If you are unable to find the halloumi cheese, use cheddar or parmesan or any salty cheese along with the mozzarella.
The traditional recipe is very heavy on eggs, but Aparna had modified the recipe to be less eggy. There was only one egg used in the dough and that worked great for me. Flaounes also has some raisins in the filling along with the cheeses and some Greek spices. I was unable to find the spices and hence used crushed red peppers to add some heat in the filling.
Preparation time – 30 minutes plus about 5 hours of inactive time
Cooking time – 25 – 30 minutes
Difficulty level – medium
Recipe adapted from – My Diverse Kitchen
Ingredients to make Flaounes – Makes 10 small pies
For the dough –
- All purpose flour – 2 ½ cups
- Instant yeast – ¾ tsp
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Sugar – 2 tsp
- Egg – 1
- Milk – ¼ cup
- Butter – 60 gms (melted)
- Luke warm water – about ¼ cup (more or less may be needed)
For the filling –
- Halloumi cheese – 1 cup (substitute with cheddar, grated)
- Mozzarella cheese – ½ cup (can also use paneer, grated)
- All purpose flour – 2 tsp
- Semolina (rava) – ¼ cup
- Mint – 1 tbsp (substitute with dry)
- Crushed red peppers – 1 tsp (use based on your spice level)
- Golden raisins – 3 tbsp
- Baking powder – ¾ tsp
- Milk – 1 to 2 tbsp
For the glaze/outer coat –
- Milk – to brush the tops
- White sesame seeds – ½ cup (untoasted)
- 3 tbsp milk plus 1 tbsp of all purpose flour – to seal the edges
Procedure to make Flaounes –
To make the dough –
- Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the whisked egg, milk and butter to the bowl and start kneading. Add water as needed to make a soft and smooth dough. The dough will be quite soft. Do not be tempted to add more flour.
- Place the dough in a oiled bowl and let it rise until doubled in volume (about 1 – 1 ½ hours).
- Once the dough has risen, deflate it gently and then form into a ball and place it in large bowl. Cover loosely and then refrigerate the dough for about 2-3 hours or overnight if preferred. This will allow the dough to proof slowly and that will greatly increase the flavors.
To make the filling –
- Mix all the ingredients mentioned for the filling except the milk. Mix them using a fork. If using the filling right away. Add the milk and make the filling into a thick paste. It should be quite thick and pasty. If using the filling later, then add the milk only when ready to make the pie.
Shaping the Flaounes –
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 10 pieces.
- Roll the dough into a 5 to 6 inches circle. Make sure that the dough is not rolled too thin as it will fall apart with the heavy filling.
- In a wide plate, spread the sesame seeds. Place the rolled dough on the plate and lightly press, so that the seeds stick to the rolled out dough. This is the easiest way to make the seeds stick to the outside of the pie.
- Divide the filling into 10 equal parts as well. Place one part of filling into the rolled circle and fold in into a square or a triangle pie.
- To make square pie – fold over the two opposite sides of the dough making sure they don’t come all the way to the center. The center has to open to expose the filling. Now fold over the other two side and seal them using a fork.
- To make triangular pie – fold the dough from three side one after the other and seal them using the paste of flour and milk. Make sure that the center is exposed. Refer to the pictorials to help shape them.
- I made 5 pies as square and 5 as triangle. Make sure that the pies are sealed well as they can open up during the rise.
- Place the shaped pies on a parchment lined baking tray and let it rise for about 40 minutes or until puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Just before baking brush the top of the pie (the dough part) and the sides with milk.
- Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.