Flaounes – The Cypriot Easter Tradition
“PASKAZW” … Is a typical Cypriot word arising from Easter Sunday’s food that means we are very happy, from the fact that we have eaten all the treats linked to Easter.”
Tradition, tradition, tradition a word you will often meet on this blog regarding the Cyprus kitchen, and “Flaounes” is not an exception since it is a special treat linked to the biggest celebration of the Christian Orthodox world, Easter!!
The “Flaounes” recipe is passed on (of course) from generation to generation in this not so small island of the Mediterranean and is one more tradition that gathers the whole family, who prepare and bake them. This should come as no surprise to you anymore!!!
Then again what type of Christian Orthodox Easter (or any other celebration) would it be, without the gathering of the Greek family either for the preparation, cooking and eating?
When I started thinking of this post I really had other things in mind to write but writing it, then my family came in my mind and I realized that traditions demand explanations and one of them is why the whole family is needed for the making of flaounes. The reason the entire family is needed is no other than, many helpful hands are needed for the implementation of this complex Easter custom.
My dad was the person who brought the woods needed for the lighting of the traditional oven. Then he had to put them in from the night before lighting them and leaving them burn for hours and hours (refilling them constantly) so as the clay oven was warm enough to accept the food and cook it without anything else than the hotness itself. My cousins, were there to carry the lamarines, which are huge iron trays that overflow with flaounas while my grandma, aunties and mother were the ones in charge for the preparation, creation and supervising of the baking of the flaounas.
So many hands needed for this small savoury treat and tradition…
Hands for grating endless quantities of traditional regional cheeses, 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 and making the “phyllo” (dough) that will be filled the flaounes filling in, sealed in that unique shape and then place them in a serial order in the lamarinas ready to be put in the oven and baked carefully enough not to be burnt but be cooked just right!!! This procedure of course started from the night before (great Tuesday or Great Wednesday) and finished around the afternoon of the next day…!!!!But then again this is what customs and tradition are……!!
And to tell you one more truth about this post, I was very confused if I should give you that extra ordinary recipe about “flaounes” or if I should write a bit more details about this custom since really the level of difficulty is 5/5 for the implementation of the recipe but finally I have decided to share it with you and if you decide to follow my instructions and make them, one thing is for sure, the taste will reward all your efforts …
“TYRI GIA FLAOUNES” is that special cheese we use in Cyprus to grate in the mixture of the flaounes. It’s a cheese made only in a seaside town of Cyprus Pafos, that’s why it’s also called “Pafitiko” and is only produced in Cyprus. Since it is a seasonal cheese, the particular cheese is not exported to Europe or Greece but you can replace it either with cheese from Mytillini, Ladotyri, kefalotyri, parmigiano or pegorino.
- Level of difficulty: 5/5
- Calories per flaouna: 484cal
- Fat per flaouna: 28g
- Cooking Time: about an hour
- Preparation time: about 5-6 hours
Ingredients: (for about 12 flaounes)
For the filling:
- 10 cups (1400 grams) of finely grated Pafitiko Flaouna cheese,
- 3 cups (225 grams) of finely grated halloumi cheese, or;
- 3 cups (225 grams) of finely grated kefalotyri cheese
- 3 cups (225 grams) finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 4 cups (400 grams) finely grated Ladotyri Mytillinis or pecorino romano cheese
- 3 cups (225 grams) finely grated halloumi cheese
- ½ cup grounded of fresh mint
- 3/8 tablespoons of grounded mastic powder
- 1/2 tablespoons of grounded mehlep powder
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 12 free range eggs
- 1 cup (250 grams) of raisins
For the dough:
- 1kg all purpose flour
- 1kg strong (or village type) flour
- 2 tablespoons of baking powder
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1/2 tablespoons of grounded mastic powder
- 1/2 tablespoons of grounded mehlep powder
- 2 small eggs
- 2 cups of milk
- 1-½ tablespoons of dry yeast
- Sesame seeds (for the topping)
- 2 eggs (for the topping)
- 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