Kaltsounia or Kalitsounia, is probably the most known Cretan recipe. Remember my post on Calzone where I mentioned the connection of the two names?
Kaltsounia can be either with a sweet or savory filling and the pastry shell differs in each case. Savory Kaltsounia use a pastry phyllo in which they add raki and for filling they add some greens like spinach and some wild greens, with herbs or just with xynomyzithra and eggs, which is a light whey cheese, similar to ricotta. In other parts of Greece we call these bourekia.
The sweet kaltsounia are very different in taste and shape. They are called “lihnarakia” because of their shape, resembling old oil lamps, whereas in other parts of Greece they are called “melitinia” meli = honey.
The Greek cheese used is myzithra (anthotyro), which can be flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla or lemon zest. The phyllo is made with olive oil, flour, yoghurt (or milk) and eggs, so it tastes more like a cookie filled with cheese.
My twist to this recipe is that I made the pastry with butter and added limoncello in the filling, giving the cheese a lovely lemony taste. The pastry shell was not very sweet and my children said they would prefer them to be more sweet but for my taste they were perfect. When I make them again next time I may add a couple of tablespoons sugar in the pastry and in the filling shall go even further and make them with lemon curd and anthotyro.
Limoncello Kaltsounia or Lihnarakia, Recipe by Ivy
1 egg beaten, (reserve just a little to brush on top)
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tablespoons limoncello
½ tsp vanilla essence
Egg for brushing on top
Cinnamon for top
In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and milk and mix.Leave it for a few minutes until it bubbles.
In the mixer bowl beat the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated and then add the yoghurt.
Add the yeast mixture and finally the flour and salt until the dough is ready.The dough should be soft but not sticky on the hands.
In the mixer bowl mix the anthotyro with sugar.Add the honey and the egg and whisk.Add cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest and limoncello and mix whisk creamy.
Roll out the dough and cut into disks about 10 cm in diameter.Fill in with 1 heaped teaspoon of filling leaving about 1 cm edge.With your two fingers pinch the dough in order to form sort of pleats.Start with making four.One above, one below, one left and one right and then between each fold make two more.
Place on a baking tin, lined with parchment paper.Brush with the egg and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.