Growing up in the Middle East in the 80s and 90s there wasn’t really a wide selection of cheeses. It was really just goat and sheep cheese. Wonderful, salty, white cheeses that just begged for nigella seeds and warm bread to be eaten with. That is why this recipe is so delicious, it has them all in one perfect mouthful. This recipe is my favourite to eat and also my favourite to make for parties as people always gasp when they see them and say ‘wow!’ when they eat them which is the exact reaction you want from your party guests.
I especially like to make these in advent when having guests over to celebrate Christmas.
i’m not much of a baker and i do struggle to make things look pretty but there are quite fool-proof. the only catch is that they can look very handsome and then after the second proving, they can seem a bit mis-shapen. my best advise is to not over-load with too much cheese and to make sure you use lots of milk and water when pressing the dough together. I am so jealous that you are reading this recipe and about to make these. I want to eat them!
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1-2 cups warm water
Extra virgin olive oil
1 packet of feta, crumbled
1 packet of halloumi, grated
2 heaped tsp nigella seeds
1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Crack of pepper
milk wash for dough
3 tbsp Milk
1 tbsp water
making the dough
In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients for the bread and mix
Add the water slowly as you bring together and knead into a smooth dough
Pat the ball of dough with extra virgin olive oil and cover to prove in a warm corner
Leave to rise for 45 mins
making the cheese filling
mix all the cheese filling ingredients in a bowl together
assemble the pastries
line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 250C
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is just a few ml thick
Use a round cutter to cut rounds out of the dough (I use an upturned camping mug as I like the size and it’s easy to handle and because I don’t have anything else to use!)
Place a good tablespoon full of the cheese filling in the middle and then using some of the milk wash on your fingers pinch the dough together at opposite ends of the circle and fold up parts of the aide to make an eye shape or a boat shape. Do this until you fill a tray with them. Then cover the tray with a tea towel for 20 minutes to allow to rise again. Remove tea towel and brush the dough with the milk wash.
Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
This recipe will make about 20 pastries.
Photographs: Mark Kensett and Phoebe Rison