Recipe brought to you by Peter Minaki at Kalofagas.ca
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 Tsourekia as it’s 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 20 loaves)
1 lb. room temp. unsalted butter
4 cups of whole milk
5 cups of sugar
28 cups of all purpose sifted flour
12 eggs, very well beaten
2 Tbsp. of ground Mahlepi
1 Tbsp. of ground Mastic
zest of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 large orange
3 heaping Tbsp. of active dry yeast some warm water
- In a large pot, add the butter, sugar and milk and simmer over a low heat until the 3 ingredients are incorporated. Add the zest of the lemon and orange and the orange juice. Set aside and keep warm.
- In another bowl, add two cups of tepid water, about a Tbsp. sugar and yeast and allow the yeast to activate and rise.
- In another large bowl, add the sifted flour, Mahlepi and Mastic and reserve.
- In another bowl, beat your eggs and add them to the milk & butter mixture and then add the yeast mixture as well.
- Now add wet to dry ingredients. Dust your work surface with flour and knead your dough into a very soft ball and place in a large bowl. Treat the top of your ball with some vegetable oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow your dough to double in a warm spot or a pre-heated oven.
- Once the dough has doubled, push the dough again and allow to rise again.
- Grab three handfuls of dough and roll them into 3 equal-length strips of dough, this will make one braided loaf of Tsoureki. You may choose to make a long braided loaf or a round braided loaf (as in the photo).
- Create a braid with 3 strips of dough and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Allow enough spacing between each loaf that’s equal to the width of the loaf (the loaf will expand again). Allow for the loaves to double in size. Repeat steps 7 & 8 to form your remaining Tsourekia.
- Using an egg and milk wash, brush the tops of your Tsourekia and sprinkle sesame seeds or slivered almonds.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 40-45 minutes and allow to cool.
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