Easter Koulourakia

These traditional, buttery and unusually shaped biscuits are made to be eaten after Holy Saturday.
They are sometimes made vegan (Νηστίσιμα) to be eaten during Lent. They are always found on the Easter table and are eaten for weeks after, dunked in coffee or tea.
The shape of these butter biscuits may vary but the recipe is basically the same.
Have fun making them and get the kids and grandchildren involved!

Ingredients (makes around 30):
1 kilo (2lb 2oz) plain flour, approx
A pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp ground all spice
250g (9oz) unsalted butter, softened
250g (9oz) caster sugar
3 medium eggs, at room temperature
Few drops of vanilla extract
4 tbsp brandy or Mastiha spirit (optional)
100ml (½ cup) full fat milk
Grated zest of 1 orange
100ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed orange juice

For the glaze:
1 egg yolk mixed with a little milk

Mix bicarbonate of soda in orange juice. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, the zest, vanilla, brandy/mastiha, orange juice and the milk.
Slowly add the sifted flour, salt, all spice, baking powder and mix with a wooden spoon. If the dough is too soft and sticks to your hands, add a little more flour.
Knead lightly with your hands for a few minutes to make a soft dough. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Break off walnut sized pieces, about 2-3oz, and roll with your hands on an unfloured pastry board to form long strips, approximately 31cm long. Fold the rope strip in half, twist and press the ends together, or make them into S shapes, snail or ring shapes, but make them of equal size to ensure even baking.
Arrange the biscuits on a greased baking tray lined with baking paper, not too close together, and brush with the beaten egg and milk.
Bake in a pre-heated oven 175c / 180 / gas mark 3, for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden – do not overcook them.
Cool on a wire rack and store in a biscuit tin.

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