Greek Easter Bread for #TwelveLoaves
“Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki) is a sweet yeast bread made of eggs, milk, and butter, and is a staple during Greek Easter. The three-strand braid symbolizes the Holy Trinity, while the red-dyed hard-boiled egg (not shown in my photos) braided into the dough symbolizes the blood of Christ. The bread is delicious and keeps for several days, but eat that double-cooked egg at your own risk.”
As soon as I saw this recipe on Chow.com, I knew I wanted to bake this bread for Twelve Loaves. March is here and Easter is at the end of the month. For my family, Easter represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ and, for me, this is truly a day to celebrate and give thanks.
Now, I didn’t add the red-dyed hard-boiled egg in my bread but I truly love the significance. For a more authentic Greek Easter bread, you are supposed to season it with mahlepi and mastic. “Mahlepi, also known as mahleb and mahlab, is the seed kernel found within the stone of the St. Lucie cherry. It is ground into a powder and used as a spice in Middle Eastern foods. It tastes similar to bitter almonds and tonka beans. Mastic is the sap of the mastic tree, which grows in Greece and across the Mediterranean. The sap is dried into a resin or gum, then ground and used as a spice. Mastic and mahlepi can be purchased at Greek grocers or online.” And since I decided to bake this bread at the last minute, I did not have time to go buy these ingredients so I baked my Tsoureki without these.
This bread tasted absolutely delicious, soft and light and I think the braid is just lovely. Tsoureki is a Greek brioche so it’s light and fluffy and you know it’s going to be amazing. You add finely grated orange zest into the dough and I think it’s so pretty to see in your bread!
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk or 2%; divided
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus more for dusting
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from about 1 orange)
- 1 large egg yolk
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- In a small saucepan, heat ¾ cup of the milk until warm to the touch but not hot (about 105°F to 115°F on an instant-read thermometer). Transfer the warm milk to a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for about 15 minutes to activate the yeast.
- Sift the flour, sugar and salt together into a large bowl; set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt 7 tablespoons of the butter. Let the butter cool, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Using your stand mixer, add the eggs and orange zest and mix together. Then, add the yeast mixture until well combined.
- Add the flour mixture little by little into the yeast-egg mixture until well combined. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, flouring your hands and the surface as needed, for about 3 minutes.
- Coat a baking sheet and a 16-inch piece of plastic wrap with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Set the dough on the baking sheet and cover it with the plastic wrap, butter side down. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 2 hours.
- Remove the plastic wrap and set it aside. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces (about 12 ounces each). Roll the pieces into 1-1/4-by-16-1/2-inch ropes. Pinch all 3 pieces together on one end to secure, then braid the ropes and pinch the other end of the ropes together to secure the braid. Set the braided dough on the prepared baking sheet, cover with the buttered plastic wrap (butter side down), and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and remaining 1 tablespoon milk. With a pastry brush, evenly brush the egg mixture over the risen dough, then sprinkle the almonds over top, pressing the almonds gently into the dough. Bake until the bread is browned and the internal temperature reaches 190°F on an instant-read thermometer, for about 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Recipe from Chow.com.
Twelve Loaves – March
#TwelveLoaves March is celebrating Holiday Bread! Bake a bread, yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual. This #TwelveLoaves is all about the incredible holiday breads featured in March. Do you have a favorite Easter or St. Patrick’s Day Bread? We would love to see it. Let’s get baking!
Look at what our very talented #TwelveLoaves bakers have created this March!
- Grammy’s Italian Easter Bread by Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious
- Hot Cross Buns by Holly at A Baker’s House
- Almond and Ginger Kulich by Paula at Vintage Kitchen
- American Irish Soda Bread by Renee at Magnolia Days
- Hot Cross Buns by Lora at Cake Duchess
- Pinca: Croatian Easter Bread by Sherron at Simply Gourmet
- Jamaican Zucchini Spiced Bun by Lyn at The Lovely Pantry
- Plaited Easter Bread with Cream Cheese Filling by Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake
We would love to have you join our #TwelveLoaves group; it’s easy!
1. When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyoneís posts. Please make sure that your Bread is inspired by the theme!
2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog. It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.
3. Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this March, 2013 posted on your blog by March 31, 2013.
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