Easter Traditional Greek Tsoureki
If you haven’t tried tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) before, then you are certainly missing out! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful brown semi-soft crust and an amazing stringy texture.
Greek Easter bread owes its full and rich flavour to the two aromatic spices used in this traditional tsoureki recipe, mastic and mahlab, which give a really characteristic flavour and smell. Once put in the oven, the intense aromas of the sweet spices permeates the house and brings back childhood memories. Freshly ground mastic (masticha), which is an aromatic spice from Chios island, and aromatic mahlab or mahleb (mahlepi), a spice made from ground seeds of cherry, are essential to prepare this tsoureki recipe, giving the traditional Greek Easter bread its sharp and distinctive taste. (You can purchase mastic and mahlepi at Greek grocers or online.
Greek Easter bread (tsoureki) is traditionally served in Easter and the three braids symbolise for the Holy Trinity, but it is also very popular throughout the year as a delicious mid day snack, breakfast or tea or coffee companion.
· 700 gr hard flour
· 180 gr sugar
· 130 gr butter .
· 2 medium eggs
· 1 egg yolk
· 60 gr yeast
· 100 gr full fat milk.
· 100 gr. Water
· 5 gr salt.
· Orange Zest of 2 oranges
· 40 gr mahlab
· 10 gr. Mastic. .
· 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
· egg white, for brushing over tops of loaves
· 20 g almond slivers, for sprinkling
In a mixer’s bowl, add the water and yeast. Whisk by hand and gently add the flour over the mixture, until it is covered.
Do not stir! Simply set aside for about 30 minutes, until the yeast activates. You will know that the yeast has activated because the live yeast bubbles will rise to the top, breaking out of the flour.
Beat the mahlab, sugar, mastic, cardamom and a pinch of salt in a food processor, until all of the aromatics are finely ground. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle.
When the yeast has activated, add the aromatic mixture, orange zest, egg, vanilla and melted butter.
Begin beating on low speed and gradually increase the mixer’s speed until a nice dough has been created.
Beat until the dough has completely pulled back from the sides of the bowl.
Brush a bowl with melted butter and place the dough in it.
Cover with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest and rise for at least 2 hours, at room temperature, until it doubles in size.
Preheat oven to 170* C Fan.
When the dough is ready, punch down on a clean working surface.
Roll the dough into a baguette shape, fold in half and roll again.
Repeat this process 5-8 times. It is a necessary step because it creates even more elastic threads in the dough which is what gives the sweet bread such a nice, chewy texture.
Cut into 4 equal-sized pieces.
Shape each piece into a long strip and place them one next to the other on your working surface, leaving a little space between them.
To shape it into a beautiful braid, begin by connecting the tips of all 4 strips.
Giving each strip a number… 1-2-3-4.
Fold strip 4 over strip 2…
Strip 1 over strip 3..
strip 2 over strip 3.
Repeat this over and over until you have created a beautiful braid!
Cut the braid in half to make 2 loaves. You can also leave it whole; just bake it 15 minutes longer.
Transfer to a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Brush with some egg whites, sprinkle with almond slivers and set it aside for 20 minutes, so it can rest and rise again.
When ready, bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden.
The dough needs to be beaten very well in the mixer. This allows very thin elastic “threads” to be formed inside of the dough, which will give it more elasticity and gives the sweet bread that nice “chewy” texture.
Back to #WeStayUnited