Crete has a long tradition in the making of dough-based pastries. And all the social events of life in Crete pass through the traditional handmade delicacies from local bakery workshops.
Kalitsounia is a kind of Cretan delicacy that is part of the cultural and social life in Crete. During the Easter period people participate fully in the joy of Easter by gathering together and making kalitsounia.
Kalitsounia can be found in two different types: lihnarakia with a particular round shape and anevata which have a square (usually in eastern Crete) or even triangle shape (mostly in western Crete).
“It all starts with a small piece of sourdough.”
The key ingredients to make kalitsounia
Sourdough and mizithra cheese are the main ingredients for the making of this local sweet delicacy. It takes several days to prepare kalitsounia because the sourdough needs a special treatment to give that soft and fluffy texture. And that makes this sweet dough-made delicacy almost melt in your mouth.
The making of the proper sourdough is a quite challenging procedure. And when it comes to the treatment of dough, talent is also needed. It all starts with a small piece of sourdough stored in the fridge.
After the first phase of the dough preparations, kalitsounia are filled with a good regional mizithra cheese mixed with Cretan thyme honey. Let’s have a closer look at these distinctive Cretan products.
Cretan sourdough kalitsounia
Cretans love sourdough bread and pastries. The long procedure to prepare the sourdough for the making of kalitsounia bring people together. It needs a gentle and special treatment for at least two days before the baking procedure starts.
All this anticipation and caring for the dough to be properly prepared lead to discussions, laughs and real moments of suspense! That’s how the making of a pastry delicacy becomes an important event of social life in Crete.
“Mizithra is a low-fat cheese made from a mixture of local sheep and goat milk.”
Kalitsounia filled with Mizithra cheese
Fresh sweet mizithra cheese is a key ingredient for this sweet recipe. It’s a kind of Cretan cheese that has a mild delicate flavor. There is also a type of mizithra with a less sweet flavor that is regularly used in Cretan cuisine, especially, in savory recipes (mizithropites).
Mizithra is a low-fat cheese made from a mixture of local sheep and goat milk. It has a soft texture and gives a nice creamy taste when used in Cretan recipes. It makes a perfect match when combined with Cretan thyme honey.
“Cretan thyme honey has a distinctive position worldwide.”
Cretan thyme honey
The Cretan land is covered with fields full of wild herbs and endemic plants. Pine-thyme honey, blossom honey and thyme honey are the main varieties that can be found in Crete.
Cretan thyme honey, which is made from thyme wild herb, has a distinctive position worldwide as it is a honey variety of superior quality due to its high nutritional value. It’s an aromatic honey of delicate and mild taste with a light golden color.
Cretan thyme honey from the thyme fields of Sitia, in Lasithi region, is a pure natural product. It’s harvested with great care from carefully selected wild thyme fields giving unique kinds of apiculture products such as the royal jelly, the propolis and the bee pollen.
Sitia’s thyme honey is awarded multiple times on a global scale due to its superb quality. The thyme fields around Sitia are part of the geological park of Sitia which is characterized as a NATURA area.
Handmade kalitsounia from Sitia
Sitia, at the easternmost side of Crete, is famous for the traditional sweet delicacies made from regional pure Cretan products (milk, cheese, Cretan thyme honey). Making dough-based delicacies has become a kind of art that requires patience and care.
What makes kalitsounia from Sitia so special is the treatment of the sourdough. The result is a pastry delicacy of particularly soft and fluffy texture that melts in your mouth. And once you taste it you never forget that pleasant, velvety texture of the dough!
A variety of tasteful traditional sweets wait for you to taste them: xerotigana (deep-fried dough with Cretan thyme honey and sesame seeds), amigdalota (almond soft biscuits), prozimenia koulourakia (sourdough soft bread rolls), prizimenioi loukoumades (deep-fried doughnuts of small round size), stafidota (raisin biscuits) and lots of voutimata (sweet biscuits to serve with coffee or tea).
“Sitia is famous for the handmade sweet delicacies made from pure Cretan products.”
Taste the best Cretan products
Travel to Crete and visit the best local bakery and pastry workshops using the local food guides included in the self-guided tour itineraries. Sitia, at the easternmost side of Crete, is famous for the handmade sweet delicacies made from pure Cretan products. Explore this enchanting town and choose your self-guided tour itinerary to start your gastronomic explorations!
Prepare sweet Cretan delicacies from the comfort of your home using the digital Cretan Cookbook created by Taste the local Crete. And find more than 50 easy, homemade recipes of the traditional Cretan cuisine. Learn how to cook the Cretan way from scratch!