Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flaounes (Cypriot Cheese Pies)

Flaounes or cheese pies are made in Cyprus to celebrate Spring. These traditional pies have a filling made with indigenous flaouna cheese. This cheese is not available outside of Cyprus but halloumi is a good substitute. The owner of the local Mediterranean store suggested sweet cheese as a close substitute. I used a combination of halloumi and the sweet cheese.


Mahleb is a spice found in Cyprus. It has a mild fragrant aroma. I was able to find it at the Mediterranean store as well and its aroma permeated through the entire kitchen as the pies baked. I can see myself using it as a flavoring agent in other sweet breads.


The last of the special ingredients called for in the recipe was edible gum called Mastic. While its texture when crushed was similar to any edible gum it too added a mild flavor to the pie. Normally pretty expensive I found it on a special sale. If not for the sale I would have left it out.


We Knead to Bake is a group that bakes monthly a recipe suggested by Aparna and this month she chose Flaounes. While I followed the suggested recipe for the dough I did not follow the recipe for the filling. I used instead a combination of recipes I found on the web that used the cheese combination I was using mainly adapting this one. I enjoyed baking these pies and they were very flavorful but I do not believe I will bake them again. They are just too heavy and filling.

You will need
For the dough
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
4 tbsp. butter
2 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. Instant yeast
1/2 tsp. mastic
1/4 tsp. mahleb powder
1/4 cup warm water

For the filling
250 gm cheese (mixture of halloumi and sweet cheese)
1 egg
1 tsp. mint extract
120 gm raisins
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. semolina
1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup sesame seeds
egg

Make the filling first. Grate the cheese. In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the baking powder. Cover and refrigerate.


Make the dough. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, sugar, butter and milk. Sift the flour, salt, mahleb, mastic and the yeast. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the water a little at a time and knead into a dough. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand, oil, cover and keep aside. Allow it to rise to double its volume. Half and hour before putting the pies together take the filling out of the refrigerator and add the baking powder. In a small plate place the sesame seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Divide the risen dough into 10-12 portions. Roll one portion on a floured board and roll it into a small disc. Place a couple tablespoons of filling in the center and fold it like shown in the pictures to form a square with filling showing in the middle.


Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and continue with the remaining portions of dough. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Dip the top of the flaounes in the sesame seeds to cover the sides with sesame seeds. If you like sesame seeds you can cover the entire back of the flaounes with them. We are not fond of them so I only added a few on the top.


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese puffs up and browns. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before storing. Can be stored at room temperature for a couple days in an air tight container.


Serve warm.
Flaounes do not taste very good when reheated.

4 comments:

  1. Very irresistible those flaounes are..Love that beautiful crust.

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  2. very well made varada!! the crust is looking awesome!!

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  3. I love flaounes! They are a staple in every Easter table in Cyprus and even though I am from Greece and we don't really make them, everytime I get my hands on one of them it's gone in no time!!

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  4. It's great that you could find most of the ingredients to get authentic flaounes. They look perfect.

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