Tsoureki 

Ingredients (makes 2 large or 4 small loaves): 

500g (1lb 2oz) strong plain flour 

500g (1lb 2oz) plain flour 

½ tsp salt 

2 x 7g sachets easy blend dried yeast 

175g (5oz) caster sugar 

6 -8 stones of ground mahlepi 

5-6 stones of ground gum mastic 

2 Κακουλέ (ground cardamom seeds) 

½ tsp ground cinnamon 

Grated rind and juice of an orange 

Few drops vanilla extract 

175g (6oz) butter 

4 small eggs (at room temperature), lightly beaten 

200ml (7fl oz) milk 

2 tbsp plain yogurt 

For the glaze and topping: 

1 egg slightly beaten with 2 tbsp of milk, for egg wash 

2-4 red-dyed hard boiled eggs (optional) 

25g (1oz) blanched almond flakes or sesame seeds (optional) 

For the syrup: 

½ small tea cup sugar 

½ small tea cup water 

Method: 

Activate the yeast: Place the yeast into a bowl, add ½ cup warm water and mix 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Leave for 10 minutes to activate. 

Warm the milk on a very low heat with the butter and the rest of the sugar, until butter is melted – do not boil the milk as it will kill the yeast. Set aside to cool a little. Pour the milk and butter mixture into a jug and using an electric hand whisk, whisk in the eggs, one at a time, for a few minutes, then whisk in the yogurt. If you are using whole spices, place them in a pestle with a little sugar or flour to ground them. 

Place both sifted flours into a large bowl and mix in the salt, spices, vanilla, orange juice and zest. Make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast and warm milk and butter mixture, gradually incorporating the flour to form a sticky dough or until dough doesn’t stick on the bowl, but is still a little sticky. Turn onto a light floured surface and fold gently (do not knead) for a couple of minutes until soft but still a little sticky – if too sticky add a little flour. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. 

Fold the dough gently and if you are going to decorate your bread with red-dyed hard boiled eggs, break off a small piece the size of a cricket ball as you will need it for placing around the decorated eggs later. Shape into a large thick sausage, divide the remaining dough into 6 equal portions, shape into balls, cover and allow them to rest for 15 minutes. Roll each ball (on an unfloured surface) into a rope (15 inches long, 2 inches in diameter). Lay the three strips side by side, press together at one end, braid loosely, and press together at the other end. The Tsourekia can be baked like this or shaped into circles, even handbags or baskets! At this point, you can add a dyed boiled egg between the bread, securing them with small thin ropes of the remaining dough. Place the Tsourekia on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, cover with a cloth and leave to rise again for an hour or until they almost double in size. 

Brush the Tsourekia carefully with the egg wash and sprinkle with almonds, sesame seeds or sugar. Cover loosely with greaseproof paper (they tend to go brown very quickly) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 170oc / 320of / Gas Mark 3 for about 35-40 minutes. Check the bread after 20 minutes, remove greaseproof paper and bake until they are rich and golden brown. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack, brush warm syrup all over them for a nice shine and allow to cool. 

To make the syrup, place sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil until sugars dissolves, then simmer for 5 minutes. 

You can also fill the Tsourekia with chocolate spread or jam. 

KALO PASCHA, HAPPY EASTER! 

 

Leave a Reply