Pies of freedom-loving Sfakia

Sfakian pies are perhaps ones of the most beloved in Crete. This pie is a traditional dish in the historical and formerly inaccessible sub-region of Sfakia, located in the south of West Crete in the Chania region. From there came the pie’s name—”Sfakianopita” (“Sfakian pie”).

Outwardly, these pies resemble tortillas. Their taste is rich: soft sheep’s myzithra cheese and honey create a unique combination of salty and sweet taste. The Cretans mainly consume them as a snack, but since these pies are quite filling, they work well as breakfast or for afternoon tea.

Nowadays, visitors to Crete, coming to the village of Chora Sfakion, the administrative center of the Sfakia community, will certainly try this popular Cretan dish. Only here, there are real Sfakia pies stuffed with local cheese.

The distance from Chania to the village of Chora Sfakion is about 46 mi. Moreover, the entire road runs through the picturesque majestic mountains in the area of the Lefka Ori. After the pass, the famous dizzying serpentine begins: the descent to Chora Sfakion. Today it is a good asphalt road, but with many bends which reminiscent of the difficulty to access this unique area.

Сome, enjoy the local cuisine and the surrounding nature, get in touch with the traditions of the freedom-loving, hospitable people of Sfakia who consider themselves to be the indigenous people of Crete and have always been distinguished by their love of freedom, independence and rebelliousness. The Sfakians observe the code of honor and traditions of their ancestors do not forgive betrayal and insults. The Sfakia region has never been completely conquered. During the Venetian rule, Sfakia, unlike other parts of the island, enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy. The Turkish invaders also failed to completely subjugate the area, faced with desperate resistance of local residents. Most of the 400-year-old Turkish yoke Sfakia remained self-governing. The Sfakians can be compared with the local mountains: they are majestic, difficultly accessible and harsh.

If you can’t visit Sfakia, but really want to enjoy sfakianopita, then you can cook it at home. Here the Classic Traditional Recipe from agrocrete.com/recipes/pites-sfakianes/ The cooking is simple.

Ingredients for ten small cakes:

  • 0.5 kg flour
  • 3 tablespoons of quality olive oil
  • a shot (30-60 ml) of tsikoudia (Cretan raki, grape vodka): in the absence of raki, you can use, for example, cognac;
  • a glass (200 ml) of water
  • 0.5 kg of mizithra cheese (you can use soft ricotta cheese or semi-fat country cottage cheese)
  • 1 teaspoon salt.

Pour flour and salt into a bowl. Stir it. Add olive oil, tsikoudia and water. Knead the dough. Give water to soften the dough

To prepare the filling of the pies, mash the cheese or curd evenly with a fork. You can add a little cinnamon for flavor.

From the dough, shape ten balls the size of a chicken egg. Roll them out no more than a centimeter thick. On each of them you need to put the filling and wrap then all its edges towards the center so that again you shape small balls. Roll the resulting balls back into flat cakes with a rolling pin so that they are about 15 cm in diameter. It is better to roll it with a seam upwards to notice that the dough does not disperse.

Bake the pies with olive oil in a heated skillet. Turn them over very often so they don’t burn.

Pour honey over the cakes before to serve. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or pine nuts if desired and enjoy your meal.