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Author Notes: This is a traditional Cypriot cheese bread made every Easter. It is quite important as families still gather together to make this bread just before Easter. There is a difference between the Cyprus Easter Cheese Bread made in Cyprus - with a type of cheese simply known as "flaouna" cheese - and the Cyprus Easter Cheese Bread made outside of Cyprus, which often incorporates other types of international cheeses since it can be difficult to find "flaouna" cheese in, e.g., North America. This is the "flaouna" recipe I made growing up in Canada. Truth be told, I actually prefer it to the traditional version - much more flavourful and soft! —christina@afroditeskitchen
Makes 12 flaounas
For The Filling
- 3 cups (226g) finely grated kefalotyri cheese
- 2.5 cups (226g) parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 4 cups (396g) pecorino romano cheese
- 2 tbs ground dry mint
- 3/8 tbs ground mastic powder
- 1/2 tbs ground mehlep powder
- 10 tsp baking powder
- 10 eggs
- 3/4 cup sultana raisins
For The Dough
- 7.5 cups all purpose flour
- 7.5 tbs vegetable shortening
- 1/4 tbs salt
- 1/2 tbs ground mastic powder
- 1/2 tbs ground mehlep powder
- 2 small eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 & 3/4 tbs dry yeast
- 1/6 cup white sugar
- sesame seeds
- 2 eggs for egg wash
- Prepare the filling the night before. In a large bowl mix together the cheeses, mint, mastic powder, mehlep powder and half of the baking powder with your hands.
- Add 3 eggs at a time, mixing the cheese mixture with your hands until it becomes medium-soft. You may only need 9 eggs, see the pictures above and below for reference.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest over night at room temperature.
- In the morning, add the remaining baking powder, raisins and mix well with your hands. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.
- Prepare the dough. Mix together the flour, mastic powder, mehlep powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the vegetable shortening and rub the shortening into the flour mixture with your fingers.
- Dilute the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm milk and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes until a light foam has formed on top.
- In the meantime, warm the remaining milk with remaining sugar over the stove at low heat. Place 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. If the flour mixture needs more water, have some warm water at hand and add a little warm water if necessary. (I added about 3 tablespoons of warm water.)
- Start needing the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. (You may use an electric mixer with a dough hook.) 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.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down with your fists.
- Cut a piece of dough the size of a small lemon. Roll it into a circle approximately 20 cm in diameter. Place a small plate over the circle and trace around it with a knife forming a flat, circular piece of dough.
- Rinse about 1 cup of sesame seeds. Place the wet sesame seeds in a plate.
- Place the circular piece of dough onto the sesame seeds so that one side is covered with sesame seeds.
- Place a handful of the cheese mixture (about one cup) into the middle of the circle. Take a brush, and brush egg wash around the edge of the circular piece of dough.
- Fold the sides of the circle to form an open triangle as shown in the pictures. Ensure that there is a small opening on top. Lightly press the corner edges down with the prongs of a fork to secure the cheese inside.
- Place on baking paper on a pan. Prepare all the “flaounes” the same way. Once a pan is full, cover the same with a kitchen towel and let the “flaounes” rise again for about 1 hour. Do the same with each full pan.
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Lightly brush the top of each “flaouna” with egg wash and bake for 45 minutes. Pour yourself a drink and enjoy – it has been a long day!