Easter is round the corner and all over Greece and Cyprus, it's that time of year again when housewives bake their tsourekia, their flaounes, their Easter cookies and look forward to the greatest celebration of the year. The Greek Easter is filled with all those smells of our traditional Easter cooking. Tsoureki, the Greek Easter Loaf, is something very similar to the french brioche and yet unique. It's our very special Easter treat. If you are ...patient, it's easy to make.
- 1 kilo (2lbs 4 oz) flour plus 1 extra cup of flour
- 1 cup of lukewarm milk
- 2 sachets instant dry yeast
- 1.5 cups sugar
- cherry mahaleb and mastic or grated lemon rind
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 6 eggs
- 1 egg to glaze
- 1-2 tbs sugar to glaze
- Pour the milk into a deep bowl and add in 1-2 tbs of sugar and the yeast.
- Dissolve the yeast well with your fingers and gradually add 1/2 cup from the 1 kg flour through a sieve mixing with your fingers till it becomes a watery batter. Cover the bowl with foil and wrap it with a warm towel. Leave for 15-20 minutes to rise.
- In the meantime, melt the shortening without browning. Beat the eggs well. Pound the cherry mahaleb and mastic with two tbs sugar.
- In another large bowl, mix the remaining of the 1kg flour with the remaining sugar, cherry mahaleb and mastic. Pour in the melted shortening and knead gently.
- Add the eggs and continue to knead gently. Make a well in the centre, pour in the batter and knead to combine.
- Continue kneading gradually adding about 1 cup flour to make a fluffy dough.
- Wrap it with a woolen blanket and leave in a warm place for 5-8 hours or till it doubles in size.
- Knead again. The size of the dough will get smaller.
- Divide into three portions and each portion into another three.
- Roll out into strips of 2cm thick. Plait these strips together loosely. This makes 3 tsourekia.
- Place the tsourekia on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper leaving some space in-between.
- Cover again with a warm towel and leave in a warm place for about 2-3 hours or till the dough doubles in size.
- Beat lightly 1 egg with 1-2 tbs sugar and glaze the tsourekia.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (150*C / 302*F) for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: The milk must be lukewarm - not hot! Otherwise, the strength of the yeast will be reduced and the tsourekia will not rise.
Recipe by: Sandra Lysandrou