Greek Easter Bread
Happy Healthy Holidays!
Greek Easter Bread, called Tsoureki in Greek, is baked and twisted into sweet bread loaves that are traditionally distributed on Easter Sunday.
3-1/2 pounds flour
14 ounces sugar
12 ounces butter
8 ounces milk - divided
3-1/2 ounces yeast
1 teaspoon mastic - crushed
1/2 teaspoon mahlepi (an oriental seed-type herb)
Almonds, blanched and coarsely crushed
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm milk and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour then leave to rise in a warm place.
Put the rest of the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center. When the yeast mixture has risen considerably put it into the well in the flour.
Warm the remaining milk in a saucepan with the eggs, half the mastic, the mahlepi, 9 oz. of the butter and combine well. Add half of this mixture to the bowl with the flour and the yeast and knead well.
Melt the rest of the butter and keep it to one side.
Add the rest of the egg, sugar, malhepi, mastic and butter mixture to the flour and yeast mixture Continue kneading, greasing your hands with the already melted butter. Knead the dough until it's elastic in consistency, not too stiff or too runny, adding a little more flour if needed. Cover the dough with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place to rise.
When the dough has risen considerably, separate the dough into three thick strips. Plait the strips, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle them with almonds and the remaining mastic. Alternatively, you could also decorate the plait with a red hard boiled egg at one end.
Bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes.
Greek Tsoureki (Easter Bread) II
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs; beaten
5 tablespoons orange juice, divided
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
5-1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
In a small saucepan, combine the milk and butter over medium heat and scald. Stir until the butter melts, then pour into a mixing bowl. When lukewarm, sprinkle in the yeast, and gradually stir in the 1/2-cup sugar until it dissolves.
Next add the salt, eggs, 3-tablespoons of orange juice, and the orange rind, stirring continuously.
Gradually add half the flour until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue adding flour gradually by hand; the dough will be sticky, but not stiff. Flour your fingers lightly and knead for 15 minutes. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl, brush the dough with melted butter, cover, and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in bulk (approximately two to three hours).
Punch the dough down and divide into 2 parts. Divide each half into three parts and roll each into a long rope about 10" x 2". Braid the three ropes together; pinch to seal the ends. Repeat with the other half of the dough to make a second tsoureki.
Place on a cookie sheet, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk (approximately 1-1/2 hours). Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by mixing the remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and the slivered almonds in a small bowl.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and with a pastry brush glaze the tops and sides of loaves.
Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the color is a rich and shiny chestnut.