In preparation for Greek Easter, this month we're sharing a recipe for the official holiday bread, tsoureki. Its subtle but unique flavor can be attributed to the use of mastic, found on the Greek island of Chios, and mahlab, a powder made from the seeds of the St Lucy's cherry. These aromatic spices are not commonly found in regular grocery stores, but you can visit your local Greek grocer or find them online. So grab your sandals, head to the market and come make Tsoureki with us.
Hard Flour - 1 kg or (8 cups)
Dry Yeast - 25 grams (or 3 tbsp)
Full fat Milk - 200ml (7 ounces or just under a cup)
Butter - 200 grams (1.75 sticks)
Mahleb - 14 grams (or 3 ⅓ tsp)
Sugar - 300 grams (or 1 ½ cups)
Mastic - 3 grams (⅔ tsp)
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
Eggs - 3 medium sized eggs + 1 egg for the egg wash
- In a mixer bowl, add 150 grams of hard flour, a cup of water at room temperature and the dry yeast.
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes
- Crush the mastic with some sugar in a pestle and mortar.
- In a small pot, add the milk, crushed mastic, 100 grams of butter cut into small pieces (so that it melts before it burns), orange zest, mahleb, vanilla extract, and the sugar.
- Heat the mixture under a low heat, until the butter just about melts, gently mixing
- Remove the pot off the heat, and add the eggs and some salt
- Add to mixture A, ensuring first the mixture B is luke warm so as not to destroy the dry yeast
- Mix on low speed for 5 minutes, using a dough hook attachment
- Add 850 grams of flour to the mixer, and mix on low speed for 13-15 minutes
- Add 100 grams of melted butter, and mix for another 5-7 minutes until the butter is absorbed
- Place the dough in a buttered bowl - cover with a towel and allow to sit for 1-1.5 hours, until it doubles in size
- Remove the dough from the bowl, and cut in half - each half will make a loaf of tsoureki
- Take each half, and cut into 4 equal pieces
- Form each piece into a little ball, and roll into long strips with your hands
- Hold each edge of the strips, and shake it up and down to create a dough rope
- Braid the strips - the outer strips cross over the two middle strips, and the two middle strips over each other.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, and place the braided dough on it
- Allow to sit for 30 minutes, covered with a towel, while preheating the oven to 150degC
- Brush the tsoureki with an egg wash (egg white mixed with some water) for a golden color when baking
- Sprinkle the almond flakes on top of the dough
- Bake for 50-60 minutes at 150 degrees C, or 300 degrees F