Tsoureki - Greek Easter Bread
Photo by Norman Ojanen
With Easter fast approaching, it´s time to start thinking about making yummy Easter specialties! A must in my home is Tsoureki . . . a truly rich and delicious sweet yeast bread that is normally decorated with one or more dyed red eggs.
One can of course make Tsoureki all year round and enjoy it for breakfast or as a special treat . . . any time of the day!
Should you have any leftovers, I suggest you try making a scrumptious tasting Tsoureki bread pudding or perhaps French toast! Both are really delicious . . . but a bit heavy on the calories! Oh well . . . we can´t win them all . . . so indulge and enjoy!
Tsoureki Bread Recipe
50g fresh yeast or 2 tbsp dry yeast ¼ cup lukewarm water ¾ cup sugar ½ tsp ground ginger 1 cup milk 125g melted butter 3 eggs 1–2 tbsp orange zest ½-1 tbsp ground mahlab (mahlepi), to taste 750g all-purpose flour (6 cups) – approximately ½ tbsp salt 1 egg for glaze Died red eggs and sesame seeds – optional
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar and ground ginger and mix. Set aside. Melt butter, add milk and mix. Add the eggs, orange rind, mahlepi and mix.
Now add the milk-egg mixture to the water-yeast mixture and stir with wooden spoon. Slowly incorporate the flour until the mixture forms smooth wet dough.
Place on a flat surface sprinkled with a little flour and knead or slap until dough is really smooth and elastic.
Let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and knead a little bit. Shape into loaf or make a braid or if you prefer to make small Tsoureki bread rolls.
Place on baking sheet covered with baking or parchment paper. Brush with egg wash, decorate with 1 - 4 red eggs and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Let rise and when doubled in size, place in preheated oven, 175 degrees C (350 degrees F), for about 40–45 minutes.
The baking time will of course always depend on the bread’s size! Tsoureki bread rolls should not take more than 15–20 minutes to bake.
Remove from oven and place on baking rack to cool.
Yield: 1 large loaf
This bread freezes very well – whole or sliced
In many regions of Greece, Tsoureki is also flavored with mastiha or orange juice and zest with a bit of vanilla essence or ground cinnamon and/or anise seeds and orange zest and sometimes only crushed anise seeds. It all depends on the region and family traditions
Mahlepi is a spice from the kernel of the black cherry stone, which is ground and used to flavour sweet yeast breads
Mastiha is mastic gum, pulverized and used to flavor liqueur, sweets and breads as well as ice-cream
© KaritasM – April 2017