Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cypriot Easter bread (flaounes)



1 kg Romano cheese, grated 
250 g haloumi, grated 
50 g fresh yeast, dissolved in 125 ml (½ cup) warm milk and ½ tsp white sugar 
180 g (1 cup) fine semolina 
150 g (1 cup) plain flour 
7 eggs 
1 small bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped 
1½ tsp baking powder 
170 g (1 cup) sultanas, or to taste 

1 kg plain flour 
5 g mastic, crushed (see Note) 
10 g mahlepi, crushed (see Note) 
40 g fresh yeast, dissolved in 125 ml (½ cup) warm milk and ½ tsp white sugar 
 125 g soft unsalted butter 
pinch of salt 
1 litre (4 cups) milk, approximately 

250 g sesame seeds 
dash of white vinegar 
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Cook's notes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. 


Resting time 1 hour 
Chilling/freezing time overnight

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

To make the filling, combine the cheeses, yeast mixture, semolina, plain flour and eggs in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The following day, stir in the mint, baking powder and sultanas until well combined.

To make the pastry, place the flour, mastic, mahlepi, yeast mixture, butter and salt in a large bowl.

Adding the milk a little at a time, knead ingredients together until soft but not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap, a towel or blanket, and set aside to rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, to make the glaze, place the sesame seeds, vinegar and enough water to cover in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Drain well and spread seeds over a tea towel to dry.

To assemble, divide dough into large pieces and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until about 3 mm thick. Using a saucer as a template, cut into 18 cm rounds.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line baking trays with baking paper. Firmly press one side of pastry rounds into sesame seeds on tea towel to coat bases well. Place 1 heaped tbsp of filling into centre and fold in three sides to make a rounded triangle shape, leaving a gap in centre with filling exposed.

Place on prepared trays. Brush tops with beaten egg yolk and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden.

• Mastic is the hardened resin from a small evergreen tree found mainly on the Greek island of Chios. It is used to flavour Greek and Cypriot baked goods, sweets, drinks and ice-cream. It’s available from Greek food stores and good delicatessens.
• Mahlepi (or mahlab) is a spice made from ground cherry pits. It is usually sold whole and needs to be ground using a mortar and pestle before using. Use it to add a sweet, spicy fragrance to sweet breads. It’s available from Greek food stores.