Flaounes - Don't be Scared

I feel this recipe needs a bit of reassurance. Reading the ingredients alone is daunting, I know!

The truth is, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I was lead to believe that making flaounes was a week long complicated process, it’s not. Day 1 and 2 need 30 minutes of prepping and day 3 is 2-4 hours.


Sit back for this one with a couple of glasses of wine, I needed a bottle by the end!


Where to start with this one? Honesty is the best policy, I have never ever made these! The recipe was given to me around 15 years ago and it has been collecting dust ever since.


Remember my intro when I said no one’s cooking is a good as their grandmothers? This experience came with a book worth of knowledge, opinions and tips. Where to begin?


‘Don’t put too much mastichi, they will turn bitter’


‘Cinnamon? No, we don’t use cinnamon, don’t include it’


‘How much butter are you going to use in your pastry? No butter?! This sounds wrong’


‘Call your Thea (aunty) Dia, hers are amazing’


So hold on, for everyone that gave me advice, can I ask how many times it took for you to get this right?


Everyone ‘oh, I’ve never attempted to make them’


Profound silence, what the hell do I say to that?


Take the bull by the horns Jo, it’s not going to be that hard ....


I head out to buy all the ingredients, the list is big but I’m not put off, I’m excited about this ....just follow the recipe. The cheeses alone weigh 1.2kg and telling my sister this, she says ‘come get the food processor, it will take 2 minutes to grate everything, you’ll blitz it’


Food processor, rolling pin, cheeses and all other ingredients in the boot of the car, I head home.


I’m ready to go, I check the blades to attach the correct one ....it’s not in the box.


Me ‘Ell, I’m missing the blade I need, are there anymore?’


Ell ‘No Jo just what’s in the box ....it’s probably missing’


Great, first hurdle to jump. What do I do? It’s now 8:30pm. I do not have the pyramid grater and local shops are closed. All I have is the smallest hand held grater known to man so I start grating.


I need to take breaks, my hands hurt, the veins on my hands have popped up because of the pressure and strain I’m putting them under, my arms have never had a work out like this before and I’ve managed to grate my thumb knuckle off. I’m sweating but still have a sense of achievement.


You will read the method and be completely put off ....don’t be! I’ve managed to break everything down to perfection for you.


My first batch was good, albeit burnt (yes I burnt them). Yes my measures were slightly less because I had the fear of God in me and didn’t want these to be over powering and bitter but they were definitely passable.


General feedback was, more mint, more mastichi, more mehlebi, more raisins, stronger cheese, roll out my pastry thinner, oh and maybe don’t burn them again. Not bad for a first attempt but not quite good enough.


The delay in my post was to get these right, second attempt came out pretty perfect if I say so myself! So, follow the recipe, read the tips and give this a go. It’s not as daunting as it sounds but be prepared to be the official family flaouna maker from here on out!


Making flaounes can be a very social get together so get into your bubbles, open a bottle of wine and enjoy making flaounes as much as I did with my sisters!



Ingredients

Ingredients for yeast

3/4 Cup Plain flour

2g Dry Yeast

Warm Water


Ingredients for the cheese

1kg Flaouna Cheese

1 Halloumi Cheese

200g Mature Cheddar Cheese

1 1/2 Tsp Mastichi - Blend or ground into a fine powder keeping separate (read top tips)

1 1/2 Tsp Mehlebi - Blend or ground into a fine powder keeping them separate

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Cup Fine Semolina

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

1 1/2 Heaped Tsp Baking Powder

1 Cup Raisins (optional)

2 Handfuls Fresh Mint

1 Tsp Dry Mint


Ingredients the night before making the flaounes for the cheese

8 Medium Egg Yolks

1 Yeast (large egg size)


Ingredients for pastry

250g Village Flour (green packet)

250g Plain Flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Mastichi

1 Tsp Mehlebi

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 1/2 Heaped Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Glass Sunflower Oil

1 Beaten Egg

1 Cup Milk

2 Tbsp Sugar


Ingredients for end result

1 Packet of Sesame Seeds

1 Beaten Egg


Method

Begin the process of making flaounes no later than 3 days before completing.


Day 1 (30 minutes)


Mix your ingredients for your yeast, add water gradually until it becomes a thick sticky paste and set aside to rise for 12 hours. This can then be placed in the fridge until it’s ready for use. The yeast will form a hard layer which will be removed before use.


Grate all the cheeses finely in a large bowl, placing this in the fringe for at least 24hrs. Turn the cheeses 4 times a day in order for them to dry out. Traditionally this is done for 3 consecutive days, time permitting.


Day 2 (30 minutes)


After 24 hours, add all your dry ingredients to the cheese.

This is the tricky part, if you want to please everyone! It’s here you have the option to split your cheese equally to have some flaounes with raisins and some without.


Add egg yolks and yeast (one large egg size) to the mix forming a solid cheese ball and leave to stand overnight, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge. If you’ve chosen to half the cheese to make some with raisins and some without, add 4 egg yolks to each batch of cheese yeast (half an egg size) to each batch.


Day 3 (minimum 2 hours)


The day you make the flaounes.


Heat the milk until lukewarm and dilute the sugar, set aside.


Mix together the flours, salt, mehlebi, mastichi, cinnamon, baking powder and sunflower oil until it forms into breadcrumbs. Once done, add the egg.


Slowly add the milk, kneading continuously until it becomes stiff. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.


You’re ready to to begin making flaounes!!!!!


Pre heat oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 7 for at least 30 minutes.


Weigh the cheese and divide by 20, this is the weight of each cheese ball. Once you have 20 equal cheese balls, do the same with the pastry. This will help achieve 20 equal flaounes.


Sprinkle flour on work top to prevent pastry from sticking. To help achieve a round shape when rolling pastry, form a ball and push down on this with the palm of your hand. Roll the pastry out thinly and use a cereal bowl to place upside down on the pastry. Cut around and discard any excess pastry.


Sprinkle plenty of sesame seeds on a flat surface and push the perfectly round cut pastry onto these.


The pastry may begin to shrink, this isn’t a problem, quickly roll it back into shape. Place one cheese ball into the middle of the pastry and push down with the palm of your hand.


Fold the pastry into the cheese exposing a square piece of cheese in the middle. Pinch together the corners. You can push the pastry into the cheese to keep it in place.


Repeat the process until all cheese balls are wrapped!


Beat 1 egg and brush all the flaounes.


Lay the flaounes on baking trays and leave to rest for 1 hour prior to placing in the oven. This will help them to rise!


Reduce oven heat to 180C / fan 160C /gas mark 4.


Place flaounes in the oven. DO NOT OPEN OVEN FOR THE FIRST 20 MINUTES!


Leave for 40-45 minutes to cook. If the lower ones do not rise as much as the top ones, swap them over after 30 minutes.



Tips

Double all ingredients for double the amount of flaounes.


Remove the hard crust of yeast (after 12 hours) and wrap in cling film to prevent from going crusty in the fridge.


When blending mastichi, add flour to the blender as this will prevent the gum from sticking to your equipment.


For every 1kg of cheeses, use 1 egg size yeast for the cheese mixture. I have suggested one large egg size as my recipe is 1.2kg.


Flaounes can be frozen both raw and baked. If you chose to freeze them prior to baking, do not brush with egg.


Check the base of one to ensure the pastry is cooked through before removing from the oven.


Don’t be scared to make this, it’s not as difficult as it seems.


Cost

Cost £30 for 20 flaounes.

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