Kalitsounia Anevata

Cheese-Filled Breads

THESE stuffed breads are a traditional Easter confection. They are prepared on Sitia, on Crete, with fresh sheep’s and goat’s milk myzithra. By slightly altering the filling, they can be turned from sweet to savory.

Both kinds are excellent for breakfast or for a snack. Serve the savory cheese breads with a vegetable dish, such as Greens and Potatoes from Crete, or as part of a meze spread.

Ingredients

Dough

  • cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4½–5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2–3 teaspoons aniseeds or fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Filling

  • 1 pound sheep’s milk ricotta (see Sources, or see Note), drained for 1 hour in a cheesecloth-lined colander
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons honey, preferably thyme honey
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Milk
  • 3 tablespoons nigella seeds or a combination of nigella and sesame seeds

Method

Make the Dough

In a small bowl, combine the water and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes or until frothy.

In a food processor, place 4½ cups flour, aniseeds or fennel seeds and salt. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the beaten eggs for brushing the bread and, with the motor running, add the yeast mixture, milk, eggs and oil to the flour mixture. Process for 2 to 3 minutes, or until dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl.

Oil a large bowl and a piece of plastic wrap. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 2 to 3 minutes, adding more flour as needed until the dough is soft and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in the oiled bowl and cover with the oiled plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Make the Filling

Squeeze the cheesecloth to release all the moisture. In a food processor, place the ricotta, egg yolks, honey and cinnamon and process until combined.

Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands into a 7-inch round. Place about 3 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each round. Fold one edge over the filling to envelop it, brush the edge with some milk and fold the opposite edge over it. Now fold over the top and bottom, brushing the edges with milk, to make a square. Place the breads seam side down on the oiled baking sheet. Brush with the reserved 1 tablespoon beaten egg and sprinkle with the seeds. Let rise for 40 minutes, until almost doubled in volume.

At least 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake the breads for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before serving.

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