Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)Apr 26th, 2008 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Baking, Bread, Easter, Greek, Greek Traditions
I’m at ease knowing that Easter Sunday will greet us with mild, sunny temperatures…perfect for Greeks who enjoy the outdoors. Greek Easter Sunday is meant to be spent outdoors.
Before I get on to the Tsoureki, I’d like to thank all of you who left your kind words and thoughts on my previous post about the potato salad and on my getting in print in Greek media. It meant a lot!
On to the Tsoureki, every Greek household will have this Greek Easter bread as part of the table. As I’ve seen it described by others, it has the consistency of a Brioche or even a Challah bread but make no mistake…the similarity begins and ends with the texture. I find Tsoureki to be way more flavourful.
I’ve tried many a Tsoureki as it’s also customary to give and receive a Tsoureki amongst family and friends. From this custom, I’ve tasted many Tsourekia but I like mine to be slightly sweet, aromatic from the citrus, mastic and mahlepi.
This recipe does read like an army-sized one but again, it’s customary to give loaves of Tsoureki to family & friends. Easter is not complete in our household until the aroma of the Tsoureki baking in the oven permeates the whole home. Yesterday it was church incense, today was the heavenly aroma of Tsoureki, tomorrow it will be lamb on the spit!
Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
(makes about 5 loaves)
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, divided
zest of 1 medium lemon
zest of 1 medium orange
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm/tepid water
12 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted and divided
1 tablespoon ground Mahlepi
1/4 teaspoon ground Mastic
6 large eggs, beaten plus 1 large egg, unbeaten, divided
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
In a large pot over medium low heat, add butter, 2 1/2 cup sugar and 2 1/2 cups milk. Cook for 5 minutes until the butter is melted. Add zest of lemon and orange and orange juice. Set aside but keep warm.]In medium bowl, add yeast, remaining sugar and water. Leave it for 7-10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. You will see it bubbling. Whisk beaten eggs to reserved milk/butter mixture then whisk entire egg/milk/butter mixture into the bubbling yeast.
In a large bowl, combine 12 cups flour, mahlepi, and mastic. Add the egg/milk/butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, stir mixture to form dough. Knead dough on a floured (use remaining flour) surface until it is soft and pliable. Place the dough back in the bowl, rub the surface with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to double in size in a warm place (about 2 hours). Punch the dough down and let it rise a second time (about 2 hours).
Divide the dough 15 equal balls. We are making braids here, so work with 3 balls at a time. Cover the remaining balls with a tea towel. Roll each ball into a 12 inch long log. Pinch the top ends of the logs together and then braid the logs. When you get to the end, pinch the bottom ends together. Tuck the top and bottom ends underneath the dough. Place braided loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet. You’ll only fit 2 loaves per baking sheet because you need enough room to let the braided loaves rise to double their size. So, braid the dough in batches. Repeat steps with remaining dough.
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining egg and milk. Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg/milk mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake (in batches) for 20-25 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely before serving.
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© 2008 – 2013, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.