Another magical mystery Great British Bake Off recipe, peppered with bizarre ingredients. This time not one, but two, unusual little jars. Mahleb and mastic, to be precise. Do let me know if any of you use these in everyday cooking, particularly as I now have two jars to use up. I found these two ingredients on amazon, through a company called Steenbergs. This isn't a sponsored link, I was just impressed to find somewhere that stocked them, and that dispatched them so quickly that I ordered them after the programme on Wednesday and had them by Friday. Their website is a treasure trove of mystery ingredients!
This is the mastic, which came as crystals, but ground easily into a fine powder, and was a lovely excuse to use the long-idle pestle and mortar. I also really enjoyed making this recipe overall. The yeasted pastry was simple to make, and I found myself being quite impressed at how well it all came together.
Despite all of the attention that was given to the folding and shaping of the pastries in the programme, none of them looked liked the ones in the recipe online. The contestants seemed to have all gone for a square shaped pastry, whereas the recipe provided on the website advises a circular pastry folded into a triangular shape instead.
Once I got the hang of it they were really easy to make, and the shape looked quite effective. The sesame seeds were a little reluctant to stick at times, and I found the part of the recipe which asked you to layer all of the sesame seeds out onto a tea towel a bit messy, but it did work for constructing the pastries.
I made some with the sultanas in, but as neither The Husband or my mum like sultanas, I decided to do some without, to make them a bit more tempting! The cheese flavour wasn't that strong, particularly considering how much there was in the recipe, although I did use grana padano in place of the pecorino romano (purely because that was the closest I could find in the supermarket) so that may have been part of the issue.
Unforunately, as pleased as I was with these, I will not be baking them again, because I found the smell and flavour of the mastic really unpleasant, and quite overpowering. It is very aromatic, and as was mentioned on the programme, is quite like pine, but for me it was really off-putting. The Husband said he enjoyed them, and my mum said they smelled nice, so I think it is perhaps one of those flavours that is quite divisive, but after cheerily declaring how nice these were to make I was really disappointed not to enjoy eating them. I did try, both warm and cold, but they just weren't for me, and I'm not altogether sure what to do with the rest of the mahleb!
I would, though, use the yeasted pastry technique again, and I loved the appearance of the triangular shape with the filling. I think they could also work really well in a mini version for sweet or savoury canapes, perhaps with an onion and goat's cheese filling for example. They looked quite effective, and it was really simple to do, so it definitely wasn't a complete waste learning to make these.
Paul Hollywood's Flaounes
Reproduced from BBC Food
Makes 12 flaounes. Prep time 1-2 hours. Cooking time 30 minutes to 1 hour.
For the filling
- 500g pecorino romano cheese
- 250g halloumi cheese
- 75g plain flour
- 90g fine semolina
- 7g of instant yeast
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 100g sultanas
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 4 tbspn milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the pastry
- 750g strong plain flour
- 1 tsp mastic powder
- 2 tsp ground mahlepi (also known as mahleb)
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g instant yeast
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 450ml full-fat milk
For the glaze
- 200g sesame seeds
- Dash of white wine vinegar
- 3 free-range egg yolks, lightly beaten
- To make the filling, grate the pecorino romano and the halloumi into a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the semolina, plain flour, instant yeast, dried mint and sultanas. In a jug, beat together the eggs and milk.
- Tip the flour mixture onto the cheeses and pour over the egg mixture. Mix with your hands, then cover and leave to stand while you make the pastry.
- For the pastry, put the flour, mastic powder and ground mahlepi into a bowl. On side of the bowl add the sugar and salt, and on the other side of the bowl add the yeast. Make a well in the centre and add the butter and 350ml of the milk. Combine to form a soft dough, adding the remaining milk as needed (you may not require it all).
- On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth. Return it to the bowl, cover and leave for an hour.
- To make the glaze, place the sesame seeds and white wine vinegar in a small saucepan, with enough water to cover them, and bring to the boil. Drain the sesame seeds and lay them on a clean tea towel to dry.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan and line three baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.
- Divide the pastry into large pieces, and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until around 3mm thick. Use a saucer as a template to cut out 15cm rounds, until you have 12 of them. Press one side of the rounds into the sesame seeds to coat.
- To finish the filling, add the baking powder to the mixture, and divide it equally between the centre of each pastry round. For each round, fold the sides into three edges and bring to the centre to make a rounded triangle, leaving the middle exposed so the filling can still be seen.
- Place the flaounas on the baking trays and brush with the egg yolk. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/160C Fan and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and puffed up. Serve hot or cold