Tradition, tradition, tradition, is a word you will come across many times in this blog since tradition is part of our Greek culture, life and mentality. Flaounas in not an exception, on the contrary is one of the strongest, Greek Orthodox Easter food traditions that goes from generation to generation, where families and generations gather to create while children and grandchildren can’t wait to taste!
Although many of my childhood food memories come from my yiayia – my grandmother that is – flaounas is a memory that is associate with my mom and this is the recipe that I will be sharing with you today, her traditional flaounas.
When I started writing the post, my family came accross my mind and I realized that traditions, sometimes demand explanations and one explanation I would like to do here, is why the whole family is needed for the making of flaounas. And the reason is no other than, many helpful hands are needed for the implementation of this complex Easter custom. Traditional flaounas demand Cypriot traditional, village, white-clay ovens where we make hot with lots of woods that become charcoals – as time pass – from the night before and is hot enough the morning around 5:00am to cook the first flaounas and last nearly all day long. And why so many hands are needed for this small savory incredibly tasty treat and tradition?
We need hands for grating endless quantities of traditional regional – Pafitiko – cheese, hands for mixing all those ingredients with tones of eggs, raisins and aromas from Cyprus, the Mediterranean and the middle east… Hands for opening the ‘zymari’ – dough- and make the ‘phylo’ – ply – that will be filled with that delicious savory filling of cheese and eggs and aromas – the flaouna filling – then ‘sealed’ in a special way in that unique shape, add sesame seeds on top and be placed – in a linear order – in the ‘lamarinas’ – huge stainless steel baking trays – ready to be put in the oven and baked carefully enough not to burn them on top but be cooked in the inside, a procedure that will begin from the night before (great Tuesday or Great Wednesday) and finished around the afternoon of the next day…!!!!
As it concerns the ingredients one more time I can guarantee you that you will get everything you need, the freshest ingredients and in the most affordable prices at your nearest LIDL store where quality cost less. There is also a huge collection of cheeses that you can replace the traditional flaouna cheese, (one example is the Greek cheese Ladotyri Mytilinis) or the Italian cheese Regato all from your nearest LIDL STORE.
Scared enough to avoid doing this Cypriot traditional Easter savory? Well don’t be since Paul Hollywood manage to make flaounas at the ‘British Bake off 2015’ with amateur bakers for just under 2½ hours and if they made, it so can we! The idea is to cook the flaounas in our home oven, grate the cheese in the mixer, perhaps watch a video of how they make the dough and the shape of a flaouna and fill them and get a couple of friends or relatives in the kitchen with you to help a bit in the process.
Hope you enjoy making the flaounas and ‘KALO PASHA’ everybody…xx
- This incredibly difficult and strictly traditional Cypriot recipe has a glossary from Greek to English both in the ingredients and in the props and I will try to transfer them to you with the best possible way:
- FLAOUNA cheese: Traditional Easter Cheese for flaounas from Pafos, a region in Cyprus –
- We can also use, Ladotyri Mytillinis, traditional cheese from the island of Lesvos and special cheese for Flaounas from your nearest LIDL STORE.
- Lamarines: Huge stainless steel oven bake trays
- Mehlepi: Mehlep
- Mastiha: Mastic
- 1,5kg of finely grated Flaouna cheese or Ladotyri cheese or Regato cheese
- 1 packet/ 200g of finely grated halloumi cheese
- 2-3tsp of finely chopped fresh mint
- 1tsp of grounded mastic powder
- 1tsp of grounded mehlep powder
- 5tsp of baking powder
- 9-12 free range, eggs
- 1 cup or 250g of gold and black sultana raisins
- 120g prozymi or 1 small packet ( 8g) of dry yeast
- For topping:
- 1 egg, beaten (for egg-wash)
- 500g of white sesame seeds for garnishing
- 1kg all-purpose flour
- 1kg strong/village flour
- 2 tablespoons of baking powder
- 6 soupspoons of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- ½tps of grounded mastic powder
- ½tps of grounded mehlep powder
- 2 small eggs yolks
- 2 cups of milk
- 1½ tablespoons of dry yeast
- The filling is made 24 hours in advance and we keep it very warm to rise double in size by the next day. We add the mint, aromas and sultana the next day.
- The making of the flaounes starts from the night before so grate the combination of cheeses you will choose and in a large bowl mix together the cheeses, mint, mastic powder, mehlep powder and half of the baking powder with your hands.
- In another bowl break and whisk all the eggs, and by making a well, add them slowly-slowly in the cheese mixture with your hands. Mix well until you get that NOT soft mixture. It all depends from the mixture of how many eggs you will finally use since you don’t want your mixture to be very soft and drooling.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest over night at room temperature.
- In the morning, add the remaining baking powder, raisins and mix well with your hands then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it to rest until your dough gets ready.
- Some people prepare the dough from the night before too while others prefer to prepare it on the same day.
- In a large bowl mix the flour, mastic powder, mehlep powder and salt together and add the vegetable oil and mould the mixture.
- In the meantime, dissolve the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm milk and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl. Then cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes until light foam has formed on top.
- Meanwhile, warm the remaining milk with the remaining sugar at low heat and place it in a large bowl.
- Beat the eggs and add them to the milk. Keep this mixture warm until the yeast mixture has risen. Once the yeast mixture has risen, add it to the flour mixture. Start adding the remaining milk mixture slowly while mixing the dough with your hands.
- Start moulding the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover the bowl with a blanket and let the dough rise for about 2 hours in a warm place. (This is the reason why many people make the dough from the night before). When the dough rises, punch it down with your fists to become smaller.
- For the preparation of one flaouna, cut a piece of dough similar to the size of a tennis ball. Roll it into a circle and by using your plaster; make a small square pie of about 10 x 15 cm and ½ cm tick.
- In the meantime wash and dry your sesame and place it in a big bowl or loose on the surface of the table.
- Throw the outside side of your pie on the sesame and in the inside fill the centre with approximately a handful of the flaouna cheese filling.
- Using each side close the flaouna into a square shape and press the sides lightly with a fork so as they don’t open and leave a small opening in the centre of the falouna so you can see the mixture in it.
- Using a brush, rub the top of the flaouna with the whisked eggs.
- Your oven should be already warm, preheated at 200c.
- Use a shallow baking tray, Cypriots use “lamarinas,” and place the flaounes in rows.
- Place them in the oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes
“Paul Hollywood manage to make ‘flaounas’ at the ‘British Bake off 2015’ with amateur bakers for just under 2½ hours”