Greek Easter Bread – Τσουρέκι (Tsoureki)

If you haven’t tried Greek tsoureki before, then you are certainly missing out! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful brown semi-soft crust and an amazing stringy texture. Its distinct, rich flavour and intense aromas come from the two aromatic spices used: mastic and mahlab, which give a really characteristic flavour and smell. Freshly ground mastic (masticha), is an aromatic spice from Chios island, and aromatic mahlab or mahleb (mahlepi), is a spice made from ground seeds of cherry.

Ingredients

40g fresh yeast
60ml water
75g special flour for tsoureki (a flour mix, high in protein)
45g butter 82% fat
135g sugar
100g eggs
85ml milk
10g mahlepi (a spice made from cherry stones)
20ml orange juice
Zest from an orange
3g grounded mastic (resin obtained the mastic trees in Chios island, PDO product)
1g salt
A portion of vanilla (powder)
425g special flour for tsoureki
40g melted butter 82% fat, in medium temperature
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
40g thinly sliced almonds
Red eggs (if desired)

Method

Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and let it stand for 10 mins. Afterwards, add 75g of flour, stir to combine and leave it to rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins.

In a pot combine 45g butter, sugar, eggs, milk, mahlepi, juice and orange zest, mastic, salt and vanilla and warm up the mixture until it’s lukewarm. Stir to combine with a whisk. Add the mix to the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and start adding flour gradually, stirring between additions. Combine the initial mix (with the yeast) as well and mix until the dough is elastic. Finally, add melted butter and keep mixing until the dough doesn’t stick to the mixer bowl anymore. Transfer the dough into a buttered bowl, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins, until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and cut the dough in 350g balls. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Divide the dough into three and roll into three stands. Plait the strips together, place on the baking tray and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately an hour, until doubled in size. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash, sprinkle some almonds and push the red eggs (if desired) into the bread. Finally, bake tsoureki at 170° for 40 mins. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Καλό Πάσχα – Happy Easter!

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