Tiganopites: Olive Oil Pancakes with Spicy Cheese

The somewhat complicated shaping of these pancakes gives them a crackling texture, similar to that of cream crackers. The Samos tiganopites are topped with dermatotyri, a salty and sharp goat and sheep’s milk cheese, that is left to age inside a sheep’s hide.

For 40 small pancakes, 8-10 servings

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup warm water, or more, as needed

Olive oil for frying
2/3 cup coarsely grated aged Manchego, any hard cheese from Sardinia, or well aged Cheddar cheese

In a bowl stir together the flour and salt. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and the whole egg, and rub with your fingers to incorporate. Gradually add warm water to form soft dough. Knead well until silky and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4, and cover the three pieces. With the fourth piece form a cord about 13 inches long. Divide the cord into 10 pieces. Cover all but one piece, with which you need to roll a cord about 5 inches long. Dip your fingers in the reserved oil and flatten the cord to get a ribbon about 1-inch wide.

Roll like a cigar, place upright on the working surface, flatten with your palm and roll with a rolling pin to get a disk about 3 1/2 inches wide. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t a perfect circle. Form the rest of the dough into disks, keeping them covered with plastic wrap. The elastic dough will shrink, so you need to stretch each pancake before frying. (You can use a quarter or half the dough, and refrigerate the rest for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before shaping.)

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of olive oil over medium-high heat to 350°F.
Fry the pancakes in batches, turning once, until brown patches form on each side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and immediately sprinkle with cheese.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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