Tsoureki Paschalino: Greek Easter Bread

May 9, 2013 | Food

There may be as many recipes for tsoureki as there are cooks. This delicious sweet dessert bread can include a light citrus flavour, can be topped with nuts, and can include the traditional red egg cooked with the bread. In addition to serving tsoureki with the Easter meal, try it with breakfast or a cup of coffee or tea (without the red egg).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 cups of flour
  • 3 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast
  • 1 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon of mahlab (or crushed aniseed, or vanilla extract)
  • 2-3 pieces of mastic, crushed with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar (or grated peel of 1 orange)
  • 3/4 cup of milk, lukewarm
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • sesame seeds or blanched sliced almonds (optional)
  • dyed red eggs (optional)

PREPARATION:

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk. Add a few spoonfuls of flour to make a paste. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise.

In a bowl, combine flour and salt, and add melted butter.

Boil mahlab (mahlepi) in a little water, strain, and add the liquid to the flour. (Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon of mahlepi flavoring.) Add the eggs, mastic, sugar, and the risen yeast. On a floured surface, knead the mixture well until it becomes a malleable dough, about 15-20 minutes (or 10 minutes with a mixer). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1 1/2 – 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).

Punch down the dough and create shapes:

Braids: Shape into 12 or 15 ropes, about 15 inches long. Braid sets of 3 ropes to form loaves. Tuck one or more red eggs into the braids (optional).

Twists: Shape into ropes 20-24 inches long. From the middle of the rope, twist the rope gently. Tuck an egg into the top of the twist.

Other shapes: They can also be shaped into round loaves, rings, or shapes of your choice.

Place the loaves on greased cookie sheets or baking pans, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Brush with beaten egg.

(Optional) Sprinkle with sugar, sesame seeds, or blanched almond slices.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 30 minutes or under golden brown. (Tap on the bottom; they should sound hollow.) Cool on racks.

Yield: 6 two-pound loaves

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