A festive recipe from the island of Cyprus, these sweet cheese breads are baked for Easter Sunday and Ramadan. There is yeast in the filling as well as the pastry, plus mastic powder, the dried sap of the mastic tree, which adds a slight pine flavour, and mahleb or mahlepi, the spice popular in Greece and the Middle East that has a bitter almond/cherry taste.
For the filling, grate the pecorino romana and haloumi into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the plain flour, semolina, yeast, dried mint and sultanas together. Beat the eggs and milk together in a jug.
Tip the flour mixture over the cheese and pour over the egg mixture. Mix together with your hands. Cover and leave to stand while you make the pastry.
For the pastry, tip the flour, mastic powder and mahlepi into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter to the centre of the flour and 350ml of the milk. Combine the ingredients to form a soft dough. Gradually add the remaining 100ml milk (you may you may not need it all).
Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place back in the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 1 hour.
For the glaze, place the sesame seeds, vinegar and enough water to cover in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Drain well and spread the seeds over a tea towel to dry.
To assemble, pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6 and line 3 baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Divide the pastry into 12 and roll out each piece on a lightly floured work surface until about 3mm thick. Using a saucer as a template, cut the 12 portions into 15cm rounds.
Firmly press one side of the pastry rounds into the sesame seeds to coat. Add the baking powder to the filling mixture and divide the filling into 12. Place 1 portion of filling into the centre of each dough circle and fold in three sides to make a rounded triangle shape, leaving a gap in the centre with the filling exposed.
Place the flaounas on the baking sheets, brush the tops with beaten egg yolk and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4 and bake for a further 15 minutes, until golden and puffed up.