A few years ago, when we were still back in the UK, I posted one of my favourite Greek Easter recipes – kalitsounia, little sweet cheese pies. Back then, I had to substitute ricotta for the local Greek myzithra. Both of these whey cheeses are produced in the same way, but the taste is slightly different. I suspect this has to do with terroir.
However, if you can’t get hold of fresh (unsalted) myzithra or anthotiro (a creamier version of myzithra), then ricotta is just fine since the added cinnamon is the prominent flavour in the filling. It is the texture that is the important element.
Kalitsounia are known as a Cretan specialty. They can be made in a variety of ways and are generally based on local traditions – with different dough mixtures, different shapes, different cooking techniques, different herb or spice additions to the cheese filling or the choice between sweet or savoury. Some little savoury pies using non-cheese fillings are also called kalitsounia. It seems to be a generic name for these little pies. The shape made here is called Λυχναράκια, after the name for little Byzantine oil lamps.
- 200ml mild oil (corn, sunflower, canola, etc.)
- 400g sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 200g strained yoghurt
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1kg flour (or a little more)
- zest from 1 orange
- Juice from 1/2 orange
- 1 egg
Makes about 30
Preheat oven to 160 C.
Place oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix and then add eggs one at a time. Add the zest and juice from the orange, then the vanilla and yoghurt. Mix until incorporated. Lastly, add the flour and baking powder. Mix until smooth. It should be a soft, pliable dough. Add more flour if necessary to get the right texture. Let it sit while you make the filling.
For the filling, mix the cheese, sugar, egg and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until blended.
Take about a quarter of the dough and roll it out until approximately 2cm thick. Cut into rounds (about 9cm diameter). Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the centre of each circle.
Place carefully on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Brush top with a beaten egg and dust with more cinnamon.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until slightly brown. Cool and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea. They are also great for breakfast.
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A scheduled post in my absence. Will reply to any comments as soon as I can.