Greek Easter Bread
Last Sunday was Orthodox Palm Sunday which means we are preparing to celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, April 12. This week is my favorite. It is spiritually moving and prepping for a traditional Easter feast is busy and exciting. Basically, I’m getting ready to bake a ton of Greek pastries this week.
Tsoureki (soo-REH-kee) is traditional Greek Easter bread. It is not simple to make. There’s a lot involved but this year I set out to simplify the process and I think I just may have done it.
This recipe is not a family recipe. Let me tell you, my family recipe is Time Consuming (notice the Caps there?). I’m trying to spare you the 6-8 hours it takes to make ONE LOAF. Yep, that’s not a typo.
There is a well-known bakery in Thessaloniki called Terkenlis that has been baking some of Greece’s finest Tsourekia since 1948. They now have locations in Athens, and one location at Greece’s International Airport, which means you can pick up a loaf of Tsoureki and tear into it as soon as you step off the airplane. I know because I’ve done it. Many times. Their Tsoureki is light and sweet, and my favorite thing they do is cover them in chocolate.
They do some amazing things with Tsourekia (plural) and I’ve done my best to imitate what they do. Hence, the chocolate covered; not very traditional, but very tasty. If you are looking for more traditional bread, stick to the basic recipe and you should be pretty pleased. I’ve found that this tastes best the day after baking, and it really tastes good toasted with butter.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- ½ cup warm milk
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white for egg wash)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4-4 ½ cups unbleached flour
- Grated rind of 1 orange
- ½ cup melted chocolate (optional)
- Toasted almond slivers (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup warm water, according to package instructions. Add a pinch of white sugar and set aside until the water is foamy (about 10 minutes).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, white sugar and salt.
- Once the yeast is ready, add to the flour mixture along with the warm milk, melted butter, eggs and egg yolk, and orange rind.
- Mix on low with the bread or hook attachment for 6-8 minutes (this is in place of kneading by hand).
- Place the ball of dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 ½ - 2 hours.
- Separate the dough into three pieces.
- On a floured surface roll out each piece into a long rope, about 12 inches long. Line them up next to each other and braid just like braiding hair.
- Place the braded Tsoureki on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to rest for about 1 hour until it is puffy.
- Before baking brush the Tsoureki with egg wash, and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
- Optional: Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, and drizzle over cooled Tsoureki. Top with toasted almond slivers.
©2015 by Alexandra Salidas Roll, Figs & Feta, LLC.
Recipe and photos by Alexandra Salidas Roll of Figs & Feta, LLC. Please do not reprint this recipe without permission. If you would like to feature this recipe on your blog or site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link your post to this one as the original source. Thank you!
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