Flaounes (singular flaouna) is a traditional cheese bread we make in Cyprus during Easter, with an aromatic yeasted phyllo filled with a special Cypriot cheese, called Pafitiko and eggs, flavoured with Masticha (mastic resin), mahlepi (mahleb) and mint.
The word Flaouna, is derived from the ancient Greek word πᾰλάθη (palathi) > flado > fladoonis > flatouna > flaouna.
It is believed that flaouna is reminiscent of an ancient Greek kind of bread made with nuts, called palathi (παλάθη) . This bread was offered to children , who went from house to house singing about the coming of swallows and spring. This tradition continued during the Byzantine era and until recent years, flaouna was offered to children or even grown-ups, as a treat when they went from house to house to announce the resurrection of Christ or to wake up the people to go to church for the midnight mass on Easter Saturday.
The ancient palathi also contained some dried figs.
Source : My translation, from the Cypriot Encyclopaedia: Μεγάλη Κυπριακή Εγκυκλοπαίδεια. Επιμέλεια: Άντρου Παυλίδη, Λευκωσία (1984-1996).
Traditionally flaounes are made on Holy Thursday and it’s not an easy job. The preparations usually start from the previous day and on Thursday most female members of the family get up from the crack to dawn to start preparing them.
I have memories when I was young when we all used to help making them and then we had to take them to our neighbourhood’s “fourno” which was a traditional bread bakery with wood oven and we had to wait patiently for our turn to have ours baked.
These cheese breads are made with a very flavourful bread dough and filled with a cheese called “Pafitiko” made during the Easter period for flaounes. However, this can be substituted by a mixture of other Cypriot cheeses such as halloumi or kaskavalli or the Greek cheeses ladotyri Mytilinis, graviera, kefalograviera and some kefalotyri. Kefalotyri is usually very salty, so don’t add too much. We usually make more dough than necessary to make some koulouria, which is a very aromatic bread.
I have just finished the procedure of making them and I made 12 medium-sized flaounes with the quantity of flour used and there was some left to make two koulouria.
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 2 of my e-cookbook.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,