Everyone takes turns hosting holiday celebrations in our family; this year Mom hosted Easter. My assigned job was to bring a dessert. Last year for Easter, I make Tsoureki and it was a hit so I made it again this year!
Tsoureki, pronounced 'sue-wreck-ee,' is a traditional Greek braided bread made for Orthodox Easter. It's usually braided with three dough ropes and three red dyed eggs are placed on top. The number three is significant because it represents the Holy Trinity in Christianity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
While traditional bread is flavored with sour cherry seeds, makhlepi, I like to flavor my bread with more familiar spices such as Allspice, Caraway Seeds, Cinnamon, and Star Anise. These freshly ground spices add a lovely licorice aroma to a slightly sweet yeasty bread.
Tsoureki - Easter Bread:Makes 1 Large Braided Loaf or Ring
4 cups Unbleached Flour
1 cup Warm Milk
1/4 cup Softened Butter
1/3 cup Sugar
1 1/2 TBLSP Yeast
2 tsp Ground Allspice
2 tsp Ground Star Anise or Aniseed
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Caraway Seeds
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Egg Yolk
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Warm Water
Other Ingredients: 3 Red Dyed Boiled Eggs, Slivered/Sliced Almonds
Prep Work: Hard Boil the Eggs and dye them red. After they've cooled and dried, coat them in olive oil.
1. Proof the yeast by mixing the warmed milk with the sugar and add the yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes if a sponge is formed it's ready to use. If not retry with new yeast.
2. Cream the eggs and softened butter.
3. Sift the flour and add the salt, ground spices, and caraway seeds.
4. Then gradually mix the yeast and butter mixtures into the flour.
5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
7. Turn out the dough again onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
8. Re-place dough into the oiled bowl, cover with the towel and place in a warm place till doubled in size. Approximately 1hr.
9. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and punch down. Divide the dough into 3 equal balls.
10. Roll each ball into a 20-24" long rope, then braid them together.
11. Place braid on a baking sheet and push in the 3 dyed eggs. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 1 hr.
12. Preheat oven to 375F. Combined glaze ingredients and brush over the loaf. Optional: Sprinkle with Slivered/Sliced Almonds. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
13. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.