Easter is upon us once again. Today is Megalo Savato, on the eve of Easter and in practically every Greek home, family members are astir with preparations for tomorrow’s feast: an array of appetizers including grilled meats, salads, dips, breads, lamb as the centerpiece of the meal, roasted potatoes. vegetables and a fruit platter and desserts.
Another fixture of the Greek Easter table is the Tsoureki (Easter Brioche) and it’s so good our family will even make a batch despite it not being Easter. Served with breakfast or with an afternoon tea or coffee and ever so popular with Greeks and friends of Greeks alike. Calls for my mom’s Tsoureki are renewed each Spring.
Butter…eggs…fresh orange zest and juice all herald Spring and the Koulourakia (like the rest of the Easter offerings) taste oh so much better after a lengthy fast/abstention from meat and meat by-products.
Sophia’s family also shares a passion for good food and although a little nervous about testing a recipe just before Easter, all worries vanished upon smelling and ultimately biting into this buttery, soft and delicious cookie.
Some of the tastiest things are the simple things – Koulourakia being one such example. Greeks have these cookies on hand for the stream of family and friends that pass through during this most significant period on our calendar.
Sophia’s Easter Koulourakia
1/2 kg. unsalted butter (room temp.)
7 – 7 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp. of baking powder
pinch of baking soda
zest of three oranges
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. of ground Mastiha resin (place the mastiha in the freezer for a couple of hours, then remove and place between 2 sheets of cling wrap, crush to a powder with your rolling pin and add to your recipe)
sesame seeds for topping
2 egg yolks + 2 Tbsp. milk for eggwash
Pre-heated 350F oven
- Place your soft butter and sugar in a bowl and mix with your hand mixer until creamed. Now add the orange zest, eggs (one at a time), the salt, baking soda, ground mastic and the orange juice.
- As always, add your dry to wet using your hands. As the amounts of flour needed in a recipe may vary slightly, add the flour gradually and knead with your hands until the dough is soft but not sticky or tacky. Form into a ball, cover with saran wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. During this period, clean up your work area and gather your baking sheets and line them with parchment paper.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop some dough on your work surface and roll it out with your hand. Now you can form the dough into any shape you wish (I’ve given you a few ideas in the photos). Continue scooping dough and forming Koulourakia and place on your baking trays.
- Whisk your egg yolk and milk and brush the tops of all your Koulourakia (cookies). Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until just golden. Allow to cool, remove from the trays and store in airtight containers for up to 6 weeks.
Note: The recipe was given with the exact measurements given above. This conversion calculator page is a wonderful tool to bookmark and translate a recipe in measurements you’re more comfortable with.
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