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Tsoureki, Greek Easter Bread

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound bread flour (+ 6 oz. to make starter)
  • 1 cup sugar (reserve 2 tbs to grind the mahlepi and the mastic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon eggs
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 1 cup milk (warm to 78° to 80° degrees)
  • 2 3/4 ounce fresh yeast
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon mastic
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon mahlepi
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice – ground
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest – grated
  • Glaze
  • 1 pound bread flour (+ 6 oz. to make starter)
  • 1 cup sugar (reserve 2 tbs to grind the mahlepi and the mastic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon eggs
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 1 cup milk (warm to 78° to 80° degrees)
  • 2 3/4 ounce fresh yeast
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon mastic
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon mahlepi
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice – ground
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest – grated
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 water
  • Preparation

    Baking Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325° F.Place milk in a small stainless steel sauce pan and warm until 78° to 80°F degrees. Remove from heat, remove 1/4 cup of the milk, reserve.Place the yeast, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons of the milk remaining in the sauce pan. Make sure that the yeast is fully dissolved.To make the starter, in a large non reactive mixing bowl, place the 6 ounces of reserved flour, stir in the yeast mixture using a wooden spoon until fully combined and a smooth paste has formed. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place until bubbly and risen, about 10-20 minutes.In a standard tabletop mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, place the eggs remaining sugar, melted butter reserved 1/4 cup milk and mix on medium speed 3-4 minutes. Scrape the bowl using a rubber spatula to make sure all is well combined.   Sift the flour with the spices together, reserve. Add the flour yeast mixture (starter) with the machine off, turn the machine on and mix to combine. Slowly add the reserved flour until completely incorporated. Remove the paddle, change to a dough hook, and knead dough for 8-10 minutes. The dough will form a ball and pull away from the sides but will stick on the bottom slightly.Oil a clean non reactive mixing bowl place the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise for approximately one hour until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, and turn out on to a clean work surface and scale into 3 equal size balls. Shape and cover with plastic — let rise 30-40 minutes.Working with one ball of dough at a time, cut each of them into 3 equal pieces and shape each piece into a 14–15 inch rope approximately 1 inch thick, braid the dough, making 3 loaves of bread. Place on a baking sheet, brush with soft butter, cover with plastic allow to rise 15–20 minutes until fluffy. Using a pastry brush, brush glaze onto the breads, sprinkle with sliced almonds place in a 325°F degree preheated oven bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown, turning pan halfway through cooking process for even browning. Note: A convection oven is preferred. To prepare glazeIn a small mixing bowl combine the whole egg, the yolk and 1 tablespoon of water, whisk until thoroughly combine

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