Tsoureki is a sweet Greek Easter bread, which has a three-strand braid to represent the Holy Trinity. It is traditionally made today, Holy Thursday (along with the dyeing of the Easter eggs) and eaten after midnight mass and on Easter Sunday. It is made with eggs and sugar and flavoured with mastiha and mahlepi- leaving an amazing aroma throughout your kitchen!
This recipe makes 2 large Tsourekia
– 1.150 gm white strong bread flour
– 84 gm fresh yeast (or 22 gm instant dried yeast)
– 250 ml fresh, full cream milk, lukewarm
– 400 gm sugar
– pinch of salt
– 6 gm mastic, freshly ground
– 6 gm mahlepi, freshly ground
– 5 medium-sized eggs
– 230 g unsalted butter, melted
– 1 x egg yolk for glazing the tsourekia
– 1 x tbsp fresh, whole milk for glazing
– Sesame seeds for sprinkling
– In a large bowl, add fresh yeast and crumble it with your hands. Add 2 x tbsp of sugar, 2 Tx bsp of the flour and 200 ml of the lukewarm milk. Mix with your hands, dissolving the yeast in the milk.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave the bowl for dough to triple in volume. This will take about half about 45 minutes.
– In the meantime, in the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a very big bowl if you’re going to knead by hand, add the flour, the sugar, the salt, the ground mahlepi and ground mastic. Stir the ingredients to mix and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, the rest of the lukewarm milk, half of the melted butter and the proofed prozymi. Attach the dough hook to your mixer, or if you’re going to knead by hand, begin now.
– If you’re using a stand mixer, start the machine on the lowest setting (very low speed) until the ingredients mix and come together as a dough. Add the rest of the melted butter little by little and then switch to the next setting (low speed). Keep mixing at low speed for 8-9 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, you’ll need to knead the dough for approximately 15 minutes. You should end up with a dough that is not sticking to your hands or the bowl, a dough that is firm, smooth and shiny.
– Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to proof and double in volume. This will take 3-4 hours.
– When ready, place dough onto a clean working surface and knead with your hands for 1-2 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Take each piece of dough and divide it into 3 equal pieces.
-Take the first set of dough and one-by-one, shape each of the 3 pieces into a long rope about 50 cm long, 5 cm wide. Place the 3 ropes on the baking paper, connect the 3 ropes on one end and braid them. Tuck the ends underneath. Take the second set of dough and repeat
-Transfer the two braided tsourekia on two different baking sheets or trays and cover them with clean kitchen towels. Leave them at a warm place for 1-1 ½ hours to rise more.
-In the meantime, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
– In a small bowl, add the egg yolk and milk and mix well with a fork.
Once the braids have proofed, using a soft brush, apply the glaze over the braids and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
-Place the baking sheets on the low rack of the oven and bake the tsourekia for 25 minutes. Then transfer the sheets on the middle rack of the oven, cover the tsourekia with a piece of aluminum foil so they don’t burn on top and bake for 20 minutes more. They should have a golden-brown colour.
– Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Then move the tsourekia on wire racks to cool completely.