Tsoureki- Greek Easter Bread is very time consuming! You have to make sure the dough rises three or four times before you even get to the oven. So if you do not have at least 4 to 5 hours to spare, then save it for a day that you do. This bread is very flavorful and you can even use it for French bread. Tastes amazing toasted, with honey, and of course nutella. Enjoy this recipe. Cheers-
Tsoureki Greek Easter Bread
Yields: 4 braided loaves
8 cups of all-purpose flour plus a half cup for counter work.
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 1/2 cups of milk- warmed
3 envelopes of dry yeast
3 sticks of unsalted butter-
1 3/4 cup of sugar
1 large orange- zest the whole orange (reserve juice)
1 large lemon- zest the whole lemon (reserve juice)
1 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp. of mahlab
5 eggs beaten
1 tsp. of vanilla
Egg wash- 1 egg with about 1/4 cup of water beaten
*optional almonds or sesame seeds for the top of the bread
Sift the flour with the salt in a large bowl and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk; make sure the milk isn’t too hot. Add a 1/2 cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of white sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Make sure the yeast is bubbling and foamy.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over very low heat. Stir in the sugar, orange zest, and lemon zest, juice of orange and lemon, cardamom, and mahlab. Remove from heat and whisk in the beaten eggs. Let it cool slightly.
Add your yeast mixture to a mixing bowl. Add your butter, sugar and egg mixture. When I used my mixer, I placed it on low speed to add in the flour slowly. Keep adding and your dough will be quite wet but smooth dough.
Place dough in the bowl and let it rise until doubled in a warm place. I would say from a 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Turn the dough out on to a well-floured counter and punch down. You will need to keep sprinkling the dough with flour to keep it from sticking. The dough will still be wet.
Separate your dough into 4 equal parts. Shape into rounds and allow resting for ten to 15 minutes. Now divide each dough into 3 pieces. Roll each piece out to long cords that are about a foot long. Braid the three ropes together to form a braided loaf. Place the braids on baking sheets to rise again.
Once the dough has risen to double, brush the dough with the egg wash and you can place blanched almonds on top or even sesame seeds. Gently press in a red egg towards the top part of the bread.
Bake in a preheated oven at 280 degrees. My oven temp was at 300 because my oven is a bit silly at times. Your oven temp will vary. Bake until golden brown on top for about an hour.
Kalo Pasxa to you and your family from Kouzounas Kitchen!