For Easter and Beyond

Tsoureki (pronounced ‘tsoo-reh-key’) is the traditional Greek Easter bread that’s a deliciously-soft, gently-sweet braided yeast bread similar to brioche.

Pasadena Foodland chef Giuseppe Nasti makes tsoureki most weekends and will ramp up his baking for Greek Easter (April 26-29).

“I am Italian but recently my bosses have asked me to produce something I have never done before and cook with the Greek spices like mahlepi and mastika,” Giuseppe says.

“These two spices are essential for an authentic flavour, and believe me, Greek people really love their tsoureki and they will not be scared of giving you their feedback,” he says.

Giuseppe says he enjoys tsoureki toasted and served with marmalade for breakfast but he also likes it with blue cheese, Parmesan or pecorino. He thinks it is a good match with prosciutto and speck.

To make tsoureki, Giuseppe says an electric dough mixer is essential to achieve the desired soft and gently chewy texture.

“A very important characteristic of this bread is that it is very stretchy because of the development of the gluten,” he says.

“If in any case you don’t have the machine and want to try and do it, I suggest you make the dough the day before without any dry yeast and butter.”

Tsoureki Recipe

Ingredients

600g flour
160g sugar
3 large eggs
1 pinch salt
200ml milk
8g dry yeast
6g mahlepi
3g mastika
125g warm water
125g soft butter

Method

  1. Start by activating the yeast in the warm water (if you are making the dough by hand, use this step the day after). Mix the eggs, sugar and milk in a bowl, add the salt and the ground spices. Add the yeast solution. Slowly mix the dough for about 10-20 minutes, even longer if necessary. The dough is ready when it comes away from the side of the bowl. At this time add the butter and wait until it is absorbed by the dough. Prove (rest) the dough for about 1 hour.
  2. Cut it into two equal parts. And cut those two parts into three more pieces to make six pieces of dough. Roll each piece into long logs and braid three logs together to get two loaves in total. Brush each loaf with egg wash (a mix of egg and milk to glaze the surface), sprinkle with flaked almonds and prove until doubled in size.
  3. Bake at 165C for about 30 minutes. Rest until completely cooled before slicing. Enjoy this amazing bread with your family and invite some Greek friends over!
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