The sweet wafts of tsoureki being baked in Greek households in the run-up to Easter Sunday is a quintessential aspect of the festivities. Soft, fluffy, stringy, with a glazed crust and with a sprinkling of almond shavings, rich in flavour, the brioche-like tsoureki is an intrinsic part of the Easter table with hard-boiled red-dyed eggs nestled in the braids of the loaf – the three-strand braid symbolizes the Holy Trinity, while the eggs symbolize the blood of Christ.
For a more authentic flavour, tsoureki is traditionally seasoned with mahlepi – (ground cherry seed that tastes similar to bitter almonds and tonka beans) and mastic, the sap of the mastic tree, which is dried into a resin, then ground and used as a spice.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 cup milk
- 4 1⁄2-5 1⁄2 cups flour
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons yeast
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 easy steps to follow:
- Heat milk and whisk in 1½ cups of flour, sugar, and yeast.
- Cover with plastic and let stand for around 30 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time.
- Add another cup flour, orange zest, and salt. Then add butter, vanilla, and orange juice. Gradually add remaining flour, and knead until smooth.
- Coat a bowl with oil and roll dough in it to coat. Cover with plastic and let rise for 1½ hour. Preheat oven to 400.
- Make braids with the dough (2 loaves).
- Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush loaves with mixture.
- Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Don’t buy pre-ground mahlepi or mastica. The taste and smell can’t be compared to freshly ground.2. Don’t braid the dough too tightly as it needs room to rise. 3. Make sure that the dough is not wet but is smooth and pliable. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work-space if the dough is too sticky.
Insider Weekly, April 12, 2017.