Palestinian Cheese Buns

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Palestinian cheese buns 15/05/2017

An authentic Palestinian bread from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad, this “Yafawi Sfeeha”, also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet fluffy and full of flavour.

The dough is a sort of un-yeasted bread dough that needs to be stretched out really thin, to the point where you can see through it, before adding the filling and rolling it up. The shaping technique takes a bit of practice to get right but you get the hang of it after you have done a couple.

The filling is traditionally meat based but I have chosen to make a cheese version using halloumi as that is what I had available. Feta would be great too.

Makes: 8

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 210g (1 + ¾ cups) plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp powdered milk
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 130ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) water
  • olive oil or ghee for shaping

Filling:

  • 250g (9 oz) halloumi cheese, grated (or feta, crumbled)
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper

Palestinian cheese buns2

Method:

  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil in a bowl and gradually add the water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls, place on a greased tray and cover with oiled clingfilm, leave to rest for at least a couple of hours and up to overnight.
  3. Once the dough has rested make the filling, simply mix together the grated cheese, beaten egg and chopped parsley in a bowl with some freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  4. Grease a work surface and your hands well with olive oil or ghee; take one ball of dough and use your hands to gently spread it out on the oiled surface into a large, thin circle. You should be able to spread it out to about 25cm (10in) wide and it should be thin enough to see through.
  5. Fold one side of the circle over the middle, then the other, so that the dough is almost folded into thirds.
  6. Spread some of the filling along one edge of the dough, fold the closest side over the top of the filling then roll it up into a tight sausage; coil the sausage up in a spiral shape, place the bun on a baking tray.
  7. Re-grease the work surface and your hands and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
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Cypriot Flaounes

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screenshot_2016-10-16-17-09-30-11 16/10/2016

Traditionally, this is a celebratory cheese- and egg-stuffed pastry served up during Ramadan and Easter in Cyprus. These delicious snacks also make a hearty breakfast when served with olives, tomato and punchy Cypriot coffee.

Outside of Cyprus, these cheese breads are commonly called flaounes in Greek or pilavuna in Turkish. In BallisticBaker they are called heaven!

You need to make the bread dough first, that acts as a ‘bread pastry’ casing for the filling, of cheese, eggs and mint. Traditionally you would use Cypriot cheeses in the filling such as flaouna cheese and halloumi, but as it is hard to get flaouna cheese outside of Cyprus, I have offered alternatives of punchy parmesan and mature cheddar to deliver a big savoury flavour.

I hope you enjoy these little Cypriot pastries if you make them (which you need to). If you have a sweet tooth, you can also add sultanas to the filling but I prefer them completely savoury.

Makes 3-4

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 375g of strong white bread flour
  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 150-200ml of water, tepid, to mix

Filling:

  • 75g of cheddar, grated
  • 75g of halloumi, grated
  • 25g of Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tsp of plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of dried mint or half bunch fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 25g of sultanas, optional

Glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sesame seeds

screenshot_2016-10-16-16-53-20-11 screenshot_2016-10-16-16-54-29-11

screenshot_2016-10-16-17-00-03-11 screenshot_2016-10-16-17-07-49-11

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, adding more water if the mixture is too dry. Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly oiled work surface. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with an oiled piece of cling film. Leave in warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  3. To make the filling, mix the egg with the remaining ingredients. Add a little of the egg you will be using for the glaze if needed – you don’t want the final mixture to be too runny. If you add the egg and it gets too runny, add more cheese and flour to compensate. The mixture should be stiff enough to roll into balls.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to a square or a round and place a ball of filling in the middle. Bring the corners up to almost cover the filling
  5. Brush the pastries with the beaten egg all over and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and sides.
  6. Place the pastries on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the pastries are well risen, dark golden brown and the filling has puffed up.
  7. Serve warm or cold; perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch when sliced and served with olives, cheese and sliced tomatoes… and coffee!

I think these are best eaten about an hour after you’ve removed them from the oven. The bread is so fluffy and fresh and the filling is still slightly oozy. You can eat them cold or reheat in a warm oven for 10 minutes to refresh.

Herby Halloumi Flatbread Parcels

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Screenshot_2016-05-20-10-02-15-1[1] 20/05/2016

These flatbreads are stuffed with salty cheese, garlic, coriander and parsley before being griddled on the barbeque for a brilliant smoky flavour.

Suluguni is a stringy, salty cheese from Georgia; it’s not easy to find (try Russian delis), but it has a special stretchy texture and makes a welcome change from ubiquitous halloumi. I have used halloumi in the image shown which has a wonderful savoury saltiness.

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g suluguni or halloumi cheese, roughly chopped
  • 50g fresh coriander – stalks and leaves
  • 50g parsley – stalks and leaves
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1½ lavash flatbreads, about 30cm x 50cm (or use 6 flour tortillas)
  • Lemon juice to serve

Method:

  1. Put the garlic, cheese and herbs in a food processor and whizz to a paste. Season to taste.
  2. Cut the whole lavash into quarters and cut the half lavash in half to give 6 pieces. Divide the filling among the flatbread pieces or tortillas then fold into parcels. Screenshot_2016-05-20-10-04-30-1[1]
  3. Wrap the parcels individually in lightly oiled foil, pop them on the barbecue and cook for about 10 minutes. The filling will melt inside. Alternatively, heat the foil parcels in a dry frying pan for a few minutes each side or brush the unwrapped breads with sunflower oil and cook in a griddle pan over a high heat or under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden.