Sfakianes Pites / Σφακιανες Πίτες

Sfakianes Pites come from the region of Crete known as Sfakia. They’re shaped like pancakes / Cypriot Pishies, but are filled with local Xynomyzithra (a sour myzithra cheese) or sometimes feta is used instead. They are pan-fried on a non-stick skillet pan with very little olive oil, then served with a generous drizzle of Cretan honey or sugar, cinnamon and sometimes chopped nuts.

Ingredients (makes 10-12):

For the dough:
500gr all-purpose flour, plus a little extra
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar
330ml lukewarm water

For the filling:
700gr Cretan soft myzithra (unsalted) or Ricotta
1 tbsp caster sugar

For the topping:
Greek honey or sugar
Ground cinnamon
Chopped nuts

Make the dough – Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the salt and olive oil. Add the vinegar and pour the water in a steady stream, mixing with your hand until all the water is incorporated. It may be necessary to add a little more flour, in case the dough sticks to the hands, or more water if needed. Knead for about 5 minutes until it comes away from your fingers and is smooth. Form the dough into a ball, place it inside the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rest for 1 hour.
Knead the dough again for 1-2 minutes and shape into a fat salami. Cut into 10 or 12 equal pieces, flour the workbench and roll each piece into disks with a diameter of about 8/9 cm.
Place each disc between clean tea towels, so that they do not dry out, until you have opened up all of them.
Put the mizithra in a bowl, add the sugar and mix it well with a fork. Hand divide into 10 or 12 equal ball portions.
Take a ball of cheese, place in the centre of the disc and with your fingers, lift the dough and bring into the centre so that it hugs and covers the cheese.
Press it down with your hand to flatten and gently stretch the dough; it’s important to join the dough well on top to trap the cheese and not to tear the pastry. You can use a rolling pin (without much pressure), roll out the pie on a floured board into a disk of about 15cm (6 inches) as long as it does not tear.
Place each pie in a folded towel (to stop the pastry drying out) until you have made them all.
Place a medium non-stick frying pan over medium to high heat, add a few drops of olive oil and brush it over the entire surface of the frying pan.
As soon as it is well heated, put in a pie and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, check the bottom – when golden brown and cooked, flip over and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes. If it starts to swell, withdraw the pan from the heat so that the cheese does not burst through or you will lose the filling away, then reduce the heat a little and continue cooking. Once cooked keep them warm.
Repeat the same method until all Sfakianopites are cooked.
Place the pancakes on a serving plate, drizzle each one with Greek honey or sugar and ground cinnamon and serve warm. Enjoy!

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