Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flaounes: An Easter Savoury Pie

(We Knead to Bake: Bread # 16)

This month's bread on We Knead to Bake was a savory bread pie called Flaounes (Flaaa-oo-nez). This pie is generally baked at Easter in Cyprus. The ingredients will remind you of cakes. A lot of raisins, spices, egg, and milk is used for making them. The tradition goes like this, after a long fasting period of Lent, these bread pies are baked on Good Friday and exchanged between families for goodwill. Every family will jealously guard their own recipe for flaounes.

Flaounes can be sweet, semi-sweet, or savoury. This cheesy bread pie keeps very well for at least 2-3 day, and can even be frozen.

When I read the detailed recipe provided by Aparna, I gave up in despair. The recipe was too complex and had too many ingredients. I cant do it! But after viewing the delightful pictures posted by the members of We Knead to Bake, I somehow got hooked on to the idea.

I thank Aparna for the detailed recipe. You can find her recipe here. I also referred to the original recipe from here.

Watch a video where Paul Hollywood teaches you how to make flaounes. Click this link.

Here is the recipe:


For the dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp powdered mastic (leave it out if you don't have it)
1/4 tsp ground mahleb,(leave it out if you don't have it)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
60gm butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup (or less) lukewarm water, or as needed
Oil, for greasing bowl and rolling dough

For the filling

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (a somewhat sharp cheddar adds flavour)
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup crumbled paneer (fresh Indian milk cheese)
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina (not semolina flour)
1 tbsp dry mint (use 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint if available)
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper/ red chilli flakes (optional)
1/8 cup sultanas/ golden raisins (optional)
 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 to 2 tbsp milk 

1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp flour + less than 1/8 cup milk (for sealing paste)

1/3 to 1/2 cup untoasted sesame seeds

A little milk for brushing (or egg wash from beaten egg above)


First make the dough. I used my hands but you can use food processor. Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and the flavouring ingredients (if you have them) into the bowl and mix. Whisk together the egg, milk and melted butter in a small bowl and add it to the flour. Knead, adding just enough water, till you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky. Add water/ flour as necessary to get this consistency of dough. Too much flour will spoil the texture of the pies.
Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat it well. 

Cover loosely and let the dough rise for about 1 to 2 hours, until it is double in volume. Once it has risen, deflate the dough by pressing it out and folding it a few times. Then place it in a container (the dough will rise so use a large enough container), cover loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours. You can leave this in the fridge overnight too, if you want to make these pies in two stages.
While the dough is sitting for the first rise, make the filling. Mix all the ingredients for the filling, except the milk (or egg if you’re using it) with a fork. 

Mixing ingredients of the filling

If you’re not using the filling immediately, keep it aside and add the milk only when you’re ready to use the filling.
The filling should be somewhat like a stiff paste, joust moist rather than wet.
Now shape the Flaounes. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (10 if you want slightly smaller pies). Lightly oil your work surface and rolling pin. Then roll each piece into a 5 to 6” round. The round of dough should be thinner rather than thick. If it is too thick you will have a very “bready” pie, but make sure that your round of dough is not too thin to support/ carry the weight of the filling.
Divide the filling also into 8 (or 10) portions. Spread the sesame seeds on a largish plate and place the round of dough on it, in the centre, and press down lightly. This makes for an easy way to coat the Flaounes with sesame seeds. 

Now place the round on your working surface and put one portion of filling (about a generous tablespoon full of it) in the middle of the round of dough and spread it lightly, leaving about 1” free at the edge.
You can make triangular or square Flaounes, and I personally feel that the square ones (more traditional) were less bready and nicer to eat. For the square ones, fold the two opposite edges over the filling leaving the centre exposed. Now fold over the other two edges as well so you have a square pocket with the filling showing at the centre. Press down the sealed points with the tines of a fork.
For the triangular Flaounes, pull up the edges of the dough at three points and partially fold over the filling, one after the other, leaving the uncovered. Use the paste of flour and milk (or beaten egg) to seal the flaps of dough well. Press down the sealed points with the tines of a fork. It is important to seal the pies well or they will open up during the second rise/ baking. Do not pinch the flaps together as they will come apart as they rise.

Place the shaped pies on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2 to 3” between them, and let them rise for about 40 minutes. Just before baking them, brush the sides (dough part) with milk (or beaten egg) and bake the Flaounes at 190C (375F) for 25 to 30 minutes till they’re done, golden and the cheese filling is puffed up.

Let them cool on a rack. Serve them warm or at room temperature. This recipe makes 8 or 10 Flaounes, about the size of one’s palm. These pies keep for two days at room temperature in an airtight container. You can freeze the extras to eat later.
Your kiddies will love them! Crunchy and tasty. Period.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sandwich Bread in Four Easy Steps

(Adapted from Bread in Four Easy Steps: BBC Good Food)

Its been some time that I've baked bread. So my bread-baking pangs were starting to kick in! :)

This week I am posting a sandwich bread that I found on BBC Good Food. Apparently, you can use this recipe to make wholewheat as well as white bread. Well I played safe by making white bread. You can find the recipe here.

Sandwich bread is bread where the slices are slightly bigger. Small bread pieces are good for eating toast. But you generally, need a larger slice to make good sandwich.

 The secret to making good bread is good yeast. I use Gloripan Instant yeast that I ordered online! Never failed me even once.

Here is the recipe:


All purpose flour/maida: 500 grams
Instant yeast: 1/2 tablespoon
Sugar/honey: 1 tablespoon
Oil (olive oil or any neutral oil): 2 tablespoons
Salt: 1 teaspoon
Lukewarm water: 300 ml


1. Pour the flour, yeast, salt in a deep bottom bowl. Add warm water, oil, and honey to another bowl and mix the dry ingredients gradually to form a soft dough.

2. Place the ball of dough on a work surface and knead thoroughly for 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle some dry flour on top to prevent stickiness. You will get a smooth dough that springs back if you press it down. Now spread the dough with your hands to a oblong shape. Roll up from one end to form a roll. Seam the edges to make log shape.

3.Grease your loaf tin and place the log-shaped dough in the tin. Cover with a kitchen towel or clingfilm and keep in a warm dry place to rise for an hour. The dough will rise above the rim of the tin. Dont panic if the dough appears to overflow as mine did!

Placed the loaf in the tin

The loaf after rising, with slashes on the top surface

4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C for 10 minutes. Make multiple slashes on the top-surface of the loaf with a sharp knife. Place the loaf tin in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and carefully de-mold the bread. The underside should be golden-brown and should make a hollow sound when tapped. If the underside appears wet, pop it in the oven for 10 more minutes at the same temperature. Brush with butter/milk. Cool to room temperature. (Always slice the bread only when it has cooled down completely.) Slice the bread. Voila! Your sandwich loaf is ready.
just out of the oven

ready for glorious sandwiches
 Some useful tips:
1. When you put the bread for baking in the oven, also place a small bowl or glass of water along with it. Placing water inside the oven will lead to steam formation, and is needful for baking spongy bread.
2. Cover the bread tin with foil loosely (leaving space for the bread to rise) after about ten minutes of baking. Remove the foil when about 7-10 minutes of the time is left. This will prevent over-hardening of the crust. Removing the foil a short while before the baking time ends, allows the golden-brown crust to form.
3. Don't forget to brush the loaf with milk/butter right after removing from oven. This will prevent drying of the crust.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bread Pudding in Minutes! (Microwave Recipe)

(Adapted from Microwave Cooking by Sanjeev Kapoor)

This week I decided to post a recipe I have been making over quite a few years...since my little S was born. When Little S was a toddler, I did not have an OTG. I just had a microwave and did lot of microwave cooking too. At that time, hubby dear gifted me a book on microwave cooking by Sanjeev Kapoor. From that book, I learned how to make Gujarati Kadhi and Bhindi Masala in the microwave.

This easy bread pudding was one of those recipes I picked up from that book. The recipe is so simple, and most of the ingredients are generally available at home at all times. As a harried and over-tired full-time working mom of a toddler, this recipe saved my life many times.

It has got the goodness of milk, eggs, and butter. I really do not know any vegetarian alternatives to replace eggs for this recipe. All of these are nutritious for growing children.

Here is the simple recipe:


Milk: Half liter (Any type of milk. I used toned milk. You can use full-cream milk too.)
Eggs: 2
Sugar: 3 and a half tablespoons (add more according to taste)
Bread: 3-4 slices
Butter: 2 tablepsoons
Vanilla essence: 1 and a half teaspoon

For decoration:
Cashews and raisins: a handful
Tutti-fruiti: 1 tsp


1. Boil the milk and add sugar to the scalding hot milk. Adding sugar to the scalding milk enables easy mixing of the sugar. You can add more sugar to make it sweeter. I just love my bread pudding mildly sweet.
2. Tear the bread into pieces with your hands and dunk the pieces in the milk. You need not cut the pieces with a knife. The best part of this recipe is that you can use stale bread for this recipe too!
3. Let the bread pieces soak in the milk till the milk cools to room temperature.
4. Once the milk has cooled, add the eggs, vanilla essence, and butter. Mix well with a spoon. Pour Tutti fruit and raisins on top.

5. Pour the mixture into a microwave dish and place it inside the microwave. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes are over, let it sit inside the microwave for 5 more minutes. This standing time is vital.
7. Take the pudding out of the microwave. Let is cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Serve topped with chocolate sauce.

Enjoy! Your children will love it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tete-a-tete with Celebrity French Chef Marc Thuet

Thanks to the Kolkata Food Bloggers, I was invited to a meeting with the celebrity French chef Marc Thuet at The Hub, Taj Bengal. It was a blistering hot afternoon, when I reached the Taj. There were butterflies in my stomach....I was so nervous!

The Taj Bengal

Firstly, I had never met a celebrity chef before (only seen them on TV) and second I had limited knowledge about French food. According to me, French food is light on taste and uses lot of cheese. Now I like my food spicy, hot, and tangy. But I was in for surprises....

After settling in and saying all the "how-do-yous" we met Biana Zorich, Chef Marc's lovely wife and business partner. She broke the ice pretty fast and very soon we were all chatting away merrily. She educated me about the fact that French food is lighter on spices but uses the freshest of ingredients. All the meat and vegetables have to be absolutely fresh to bring out the subtle flavors. The use of cheese (especially goat cheese) gives a delicate flavor to the dishes that needs to be savored.

Chef Marc Thuet and Biana Zorich
Soon after, we were served the soup. The soup was a cold soup called "Cold Cucumber Soup with Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes". The soup was really refreshing since it was deliciously cool and flavoured with mint with a generous drizzle of olive oil. There were chunks of soft goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, that gave a yummy texture to the soup. I loved it!

Cold Cucumber Soup with Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Next up was the classic French Baguette. Being a bread enthusiast, I was beaming with happiness to taste this classic bread. It's now on my bookmarked list! The baguette is a sourdough bread and the yeast used in this bread is made from a culture that the Chef had carried all the way from Canada! The best way to eat a baguette is to dip a piece in olive oil and pop it into your mouth. The crusty exterior and the pillow soft interior, is what a baguette is famous for!

French Baguette with Olive Oil
The main course started off with the "Cured Quebec Duck Magret, Sweet Water Prawns, Black Cumin Caramel and Mango". This dish beautiful in appearance and taste. I will do the picture do all the talking.

Cured Quebec Duck Magret, Sweet Water Prawns, 
Black Cumin Caramel and Mango
This was followed by the "Gremolata Crusted Lamb Rack, Basil, and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes". This dish was Wow! At the first look, I though that perhaps the lamb meat was rare done. When I bit into the meat, I was pleasantly surprised. The meat was tender and juicy with a hint of freshly crushed pepper. 

Gremolata Crusted Lamb Rack, Basil, and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
For those who are sea-food allergic, Biana asked for a special dish "Cured Duck with Parmesan Shavings and Rocket Leaves". Here it is:

Cured Duck with Parmesan Shavings and Rocket Leaves
The masterpiece of the entire meal was the Risotto. This was "Wild Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan Shavings". Frankly, I am not an ardent Risotto fan, but this was something special. The rice was al-dente (meaning not fully cooked) and cooked in a creamy, cheesy sauce. The taste was like a childhood comfort food. I loved it so much that I polished it off the plate before I could click any pictures!

The desserts were exquisite and to-die for. There was "Chocolate Caramel Mousse Verrine with Sea Salt Crumble" and "Saffron Tartlet with Golden Peach and Alphonso Compote, Maple Syrup and Walnut Crumble". The mousse had combined the taste of chocolate with sea-salt and slight bitterness...but it was unforgettable. The Tartlet was fruity and delicate in flavour.

While we were savoring the desserts, the Chef came out to meet us. Big, blonde, with a powerful voice, Chef Marc Thuet is a personality to remember. His arms were tattooed till the elbow and a pair of shades rest on his blonde hair. The Chef is a fourth-generation chef who began his apprenticeship in his uncle's restaurant at the age of twelve. Born in Alsace, France, Chef Marc is currently based in Canada. He has appeared in reality television series "Conviction Kitchen" where he trains twelve ex-cons to run a restaurant in Vancouver. The Chef believes in using solely organic and fresh ingredients.

Interestingly, he told us that he had chalked up a menu in Canada which he promptly discarded after arriving in Kolkata. The reason? The temperature in Canada was minus 20 degrees C whereas in Kolkata it is 38 degrees C! He then decided upon a menu that would be suitable to the taste, palate, and weather conditions in Kolkata. Here is a sneak-peek into the menu:

It was wonderful talking to the Chef and learning the differences between French and Indian cuisine.

Chatting with the Chef
I came away with a very satisfied feel. The food was light, non-spicy, and easy on the stomach. 

The French Culinary Experience is part of the International Vine and Food Festival being held at Taj Bengal. You can catch lunch or dinner till the 18th of April 2014, for INR 2500 (plus taxes) for two. Don't miss it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Luscious Bengali Cheesecake: Bhapa Doi

(Adapted from Bhapa Doi Recipe on and Bhapa Doi: Steamed Sweet Yoghurt on PreeOccupied)

Bengalis love doi (curd) in all forms. Whether its the plain unsweetened doi/dahi or the gorgeous coffee colored mishti doi..its doi all the way! Dahi also forms an integral part of the Bengali cuisine because many dishes require dahi as a major ingredient such as Doi Maach. After every lip-smacking Sunday meal, the true-blue Bong will look forward to a small pot of chilled mishti doi in summers. Last year, both my dad and my hubby had boycotted me because I forgot to arrange for mishti doi for the special Jamai Shoshti meal!

This time the Kolkata Food Bloggers had come up with the interesting event for Poila Boisakh (the Bengali New Year's day). The challenge was to cook a typical Bengali dish, but the catch was that it had to be vegetarian. This is truly a challenge for me, because most of my favorite dishes fall into the non-veg category. I was at the verge of tearing my hair when hubby-man suggested that I should try to make Bhapa Doi (bh-aaa-paaa do-ee) for this event. And Bhapa Doi it is! :)

I got two wonderful recipes from here and here. My recipe is a mix and match of both.

Here is how I made it:


Dahi/Doi/Yoghurt: 1 cup (plain unsweetened)
Milk: 1 cup (I used full cream.)
Condensed milk: 1 tin
Green cardamom: 2 pods (powdered)

For decoration:
Raisins: A handful
Pistachios: 5-6 (chopped)
Tutti-Fruti: 1 tablespoon (optional)


1. Beat the curd well till there are no lumps. The curd should be thick. If you feel that the curd is watery, hang it up in a muslin cloth for two hours to get rid of the whey.
2. Add milk and condensed milk. Beat the mixture well. Add the powdered green cardamom. (I did not add green cardamom because I did not have it around.)
3. Pour the mixture into six ramekins.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. 
5. Place the ramekins on a baking tray. Pour scalding hot water in the tray taking care that the water should not spill into the ramekins. (Its very important to use hot water. If you use cold water, your cooking time will increase.)The tray should be 3/4th filled with hot water.
6. Bake at 190 degrees C for 35 minutes. When the bhapa doi inside the ramekins appears set, take it out of the oven. In case the mixture is not set, bake for 10 more minutes. Cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. For best results refrigerate overnight. And this recipe does not require gelatin or agar-agar. Once you refrigerate the ramekins adequately, you can de-mold without any crumbling.
You can also make bhapa doi in the pressure cooker. Just steam the mixture in a tight fitted steel container with lid. Steam without the weight for nearly 20-25 minutes. You can also steam the mixture in a steamer for 35 minutes on the gas.
7. Serve chilled topped with some more raisins or tutti fruti. You also also top with mango slices.


I am sending this recipe for the ongoing event at the Kolkata Food Bloggers "Poila Boishakh with Veg Bengali Dishes".