TSOUREKI: TRADITIONAL GREEK EASTER BREAD
Preparation Time: 1 hour (plus 4 hours rise time)
4 medium eggs
870g bread flour
21g dry yeast
100g lukewarm water
Zest of 1 orange
3g ground mastic
4g ground mahleb
1 egg and 1 tbsp water, for glazing the tsoureki
Almond silvers for garnish
For the syrup
- To prepare this tsoureki recipe, add in a bowl the lukewarm water, a pinch of sugar and yeast and stir. Wrap well with plastic wrap and set aside for about 6-7 minutes, until the yeast rises and starts bubbling. The water should be at the same temperature as your finger, so check it out sticking one finger in; you should feel no difference in temperature.
- Use a pestle or a blender to ground the masticha and mahlepi, along with a pinch of sugar and set aside.
- In a saucepan add the butter, sugar and milk. Place over very low heat and stir the mixture, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. The key is to melt the butter at very low heat, so that the temperature doesn’t ‘kill’ the yeast. Remove the pan from the stove and check the temperature.
- Pour the butter mixture in a large bowl and whisk in the eggs. Add the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
- In the mixer’s bowl add the flour, the ground mastic and mahlepi, orange zest and the butter-egg-yeast mixture from step 4. Using the dough hook mix at first at low speed, until the ingredients start to combine and then mix at medium-high speed for about 15 minutes, until the dough doesn’t stick on the sides of the bowl.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm environment, until at least it doubles it’s size (for about 2-3 hours).
- Gently deflate the tsoureki dough with your hands and cut in 6 equal portions. Take one piece of the dough and roll it a little bit with your hands. Hold with your hands from the edges and shake to stretch the dough into a rope. Form the Greek Easter bread into a braid and transfer on a large baking tray layered with parchment paper. Repeat the same procedure with the second tsoureki. Let the Greek Easter bread rise for about 1 more hour at room temperature or in the oven, until it almost doubles its size, like.
- In a small bowl add the egg and 1 tbsp water and whisk with a fork. Brush the top of each Greek Easter bread with the egg, being careful not to deflate it, garnish with almond silvers and bake in preheated oven at 170C for about 40-50 minutes, until nicely browned and fluffy.
- Prepare the syrup for the Greek Easter bread just right before you turn the tsoureki out of the oven. In a small pot add the sugar and water and bring to the boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove the pot from the stove and ladle the hot syrup over the hot tsoureki.
- Let the Greek Easter bread cool down and wrap well with plastic wrap, so that it doesn’t become hard and dry. Store for up to a 5-7 days at room temperature.