This traditional Cypriot recipe for Easter bread involves two hours of preparation, but you can lighten the workload by asking friends or family to help. There’s enough for 50 pieces – more than enough to go around!
- 1 kg Romano cheese, grated
- 250 g haloumi, grated
- 50 g fresh yeast, dissolved in 125 ml (½ cup) warm milk and ½ tsp white sugar
- 180 g (1 cup) fine semolina
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
- 7 eggs
- 1 small bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 170 g (1 cup) sultanas, or to taste
- 1 kg plain flour
- 5 g mastic, crushed (see Note)
- 10 g mahlepi, crushed (see Note)
- 40 g fresh yeast, dissolved in 125 ml (½ cup) warm milk and ½ tsp white sugar
- 125 g soft unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 litre (4 cups) milk, approximately
- 250 g sesame seeds
- dash of white vinegar
- 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour
Chilling/freezing time overnight
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
To make the filling, combine the cheeses, yeast mixture, semolina, plain flour and eggs in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The following day, stir in the mint, baking powder and sultanas until well combined.
To make the pastry, place the flour, mastic, mahlepi, yeast mixture, butter and salt in a large bowl.
Adding the milk a little at a time, knead ingredients together until soft but not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap, a towel or blanket, and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, place the sesame seeds, vinegar and enough water to cover in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Drain well and spread seeds over a tea towel to dry.
To assemble, divide dough into large pieces and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until about 3 mm thick. Using a saucer as a template, cut into 18 cm rounds.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line baking trays with baking paper. Firmly press one side of pastry rounds into sesame seeds on tea towel to coat bases well. Place 1 heaped tbsp of filling into centre and fold in three sides to make a rounded triangle shape, leaving a gap in centre with filling exposed.
Place on prepared trays. Brush tops with beaten egg yolk and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden.
• Mastic is the hardened resin from a small evergreen tree found mainly on the Greek island of Chios. It is used to flavour Greek and Cypriot baked goods, sweets, drinks and ice-cream. It’s available from Greek food stores and good delicatessens.
• Mahlepi (or mahlab) is a spice made from ground cherry pits. It is usually sold whole and needs to be ground using a mortar and pestle before using. Use it to add a sweet, spicy fragrance to sweet breads. It’s available from Greek food stores.