Koulourakia & Tsoureki (Baking Tips & Tricks)
We are a week away from orthodox easter, and everyone is baking. We are all making tsoureki and koulourakia now, and I want to share my tips and tricks. I tried my best to include a very detailed post about my tricks of baking both recipes.
Yesterday we did a fun live on Instagram, sharing tips and tricks on my page! My dad was having fun making rolling the koulourakia and tsourekia doughs.
I am sharing a NEW tsoureki recipe that involves olive oil instead of butter. I am telling you guys olive oil is key! You get a nice fluffy texture and beautiful loaf.
Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies) Baking Tips
Greek coffee, lemon zest, mandarin zest, vanilla bean, or almond paste. Ouzo is really good if you spray before baking, as well as a rose flower. (Anthonero)
Sliced almonds, sesame seeds, or sprinkles.
I have a few koulourakia recipes that I would love to share with you guys. I love spraying ouzo over my cookies for the nice flavors. My latest favorite is the koulourakia with a Greek coffee twist. Many people made this last year and loved it.
Other milk options:
You can definitely use non-dairy milk such as oat milk, coconut, or almond. I made koulourakia with oat milk and it works just fine.
When you add the milk to the mixture don’t worry if the mixture breaks a bit. It will bind together once you add the flour mixture.
You take about a 6-7 inch rope and make an upside-down u shape then take one side wrap over the other side and make a twist shape.
A twisted round shape:
Do the same as the braided shape but take both ends and mold together to create a beautiful round twist.
The ‘S” shape:
Take a rope about 6-7 inch long and on each end coil the rope towards each other to make an “s” shape.
The “Snail” shape:
Take a rope about 6-7 inch long and roll the rope to form a coiled shape similar to a snail.
Baking Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) & Tips
You can flavor your tsoureki with many wonderful ingredients but my favorites are;
lemon, mandarin, cardamom, vanilla, mastiha, and mahlepi. Mastiha and mahlepi are the most common for this type of bread.
If you want to make stuffed tsoureki I always enjoy using Nutella and cardamom mixture, you can find the recipe here.
Make sure your yeast is nice and bubbly and active. If the yeast and liquid don’t create a bubbly mixture, then the yeast isn’t active.
It is very CRUCIAL to let the dough rise at least 3 times. I say this so you get a nice fluffy texture, and your bread is soft. If you rush the process, the tsoureki won’t be fluffy. You should rise the dough on the first stage for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, then 2nd rise for about an hour, and 3rd rise for about 30 minutes or so. Once your dough has tripled in bulk on the first rise, then you are ready for the 2nd rise.
Braiding & Shaping:
We all know the traditional 3 braid shape, but how about other braids? The three shapes are simple it is like braiding your hair. Take 3 strands, at the very top mold them together and then farthest left place over the middle, and farthest right place over the middle.
You can do a three bread shape and then form it into a round loaf which is beautiful. Now question is, where do we put the eggs? If you want to place eggs inside the round, take a small amount of dough and cover the hole. Then add the egg in the center.
You can do a cold rise overnight, and that results in a beautiful texture. I found that a cold rise results in a fluffy texture. If you do a cold rise, then remove the day of baking an hour before.
Different Tsoureki Recipes:
Fluffy Tsoureki (NEW)
4 medium loaves or 2 large loaves
- 3 1/2 teaspoons of dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons of sugar (I use organic sugar)
- 1 3/4 warm water (make sure the water isn’t too hot)
- 1/2 + 3 tablespoons of organic sugar
- 1/2 cup of olive oil ( I use a light extra virgin olive oil)
- 5 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 8 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of mahlepi & mastiha
- 1 mandarin & 1 lemon (reserve zest)
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean
- Sesame seeds or sliced almonds
- Sugar to bake
- In a large bowl dissolve the yeast with the sugar and water. Mix with a wooden spoon, and set aside. Once the mixture is bubbly and foamy pour into a mixer bowl.
- Attach the dough hook, and pour the oil while the mixer is running. Add the eggs one egg at a time, and then add the rest of the sugar.
- On parchment paper, mix the flour, salt, lemon, mandarin, vanilla, mahlepi, and mastiha. Mix to combine.
- While the mixer is running add the flour in 3 increments. This is a ton of flour, so I recommend using a large mixing aid, otherwise, mix by hand in a large bowl. If mixing by mixing aid, knead for about 4 minutes at medium speed.
- If mixing by hand, once the dough forms, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand. Knead until dough is smooth. Place dough into a large bowl, lightly greased with olive oil.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and then cover with the towel. I place the bowl usually outside in a warm place, and I let it rise until tripled in bulk. Usually it takes about 1 1/2 hours for me.
- Punch down dough and let it rise again until doubled in bulk.
- Form the dough into desired braids and then let rest for 30 minutes or so covered. (See shapes)
- Egg wash the dough before you place it into the oven, and then top it with sesame seeds or sliced almonds. Sprinkle with sugar, and then bake in the middle rack for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. You don’t want to overtake because this results in a dry tsoureki.
- Once you remove the bread from the oven, let it cool on a wired rack, and then serve.
- You can freeze this dough, and make sure you cover it tightly with plastic wrap.
I hope these tips help you with your baking!! If you use our recipes please tag us #cookingwithkouzounaskitchen.
Have a beautiful orthodox easter! I hope you enjoy yourself with your loved ones, and may you have good health too.
With the egg wash, i do it 3 times, once as soon as braided, a second mid prove and a third just before going in the oven. Gives a nice glossy coat and browns beautifully.
Hey thanks for your comments mate. If you are using the “olive oil” method then egg wash once is perfect for a beautiful golden color. I always egg wash before going in the oven, but feel free to do it anyway you like.
Making these since I was 15 so I love sharing my methods from the years. 🙂