Easter Bread (Tsoureki) Recipe
Tsoureki is traditionally made at Easter time. It is made in Greek and Macedonian communities and it also eaten in Turkey, Armenia and other middle eastern countries.
It’s a brioche like sweet bread that is usually braided and decorated with red coloured eggs and sesame seeds.
The distinctive flavours of tsoureki come from mahleb, an aromatic spice made from cherries seeds and mastic. Mastic is a resin obtained from Pistachio lentiscus (mastic tree) both found in specialty shops. Alternatively orange zest and vanilla can be used to flavour the bread.
620g plain flour
250ml milk, warmed
3 tsp yeast
3 tsp sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
120g Pure Maple Syrup
Zest of 2 oranges
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- Weigh the flour and sift into large bowl.
- Warm the milk and melt the butter, separately, and allow to cool until lukewarm.
- In another bowl make the yeast starter, add the yeast and sugar. Remove 1 tbsp of flour taken from the large bowl and add to the yeast and sugar. Add the warm milk and whisk well. Leave in a warm place until risen and bubbles have formed, about 15 minutes.
- Make a well in the centre of the dough and add the salt, 2 beaten eggs, maple, orange zest, vanilla and the yeast starter. Slowly stir in the flour into the centre, with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients come together. Have some additional flour available if the dough is too sticky.
- Once a nice dough has formed, turn over onto a slightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until elastic.
- Place in an oiled bowl and wrap with clingfilm. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour.
- Turn the dough out, onto the floured surface and knock back the dough, pushing the air out. Knead again for a few minutes and cut into 3 equal portions. As a guide, use the width of a large baking tray and roll each portion of dough to that size to make the 3 pieces for the plaits.
- Plait the dough tightly, pinching the ends together and place it back onto a lined baking tray. Cover with oiled clingfilm and a tea towel and place in a warm spot. Leave it to double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.
- Once the dough has risen, brush with the egg wash and bake in the middle of the oven for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Delicious served warm with butter!