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Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread), Sliced with Melting Butter

Tsoureki is a Greek brioche like bread that is commonly served for major holidays including Easter. I have been seeing tsoureki pop up around the food blogging sphere near Easter every year since I started food blogging and I have been wanting to try making it. The only that held me off for so long was that it commonly includes some ingredients that I had not come across such as mastic and mahlep. (Mastic is the crystallized resin from the mastic tree and mahlep is made from sour cherry seeds from the mahlep tree.) Since last Easter I was able to find both of these ingredients so I was all set to go!

There are many variations of tsoureki including ones with different flavouring and different toppings. One common practice around Easter is to push red eggs into the braids. Since this was my first time making tsoureki, I wanted to keep it nice and simple so I went with the basic flavourings of the mastic, mahleb and orange zest and I omitted all toppings. Several things that I found interesting about this recipe was the use of the butter, eggs and milk as most of my experience with yeast based breads so far have been pretty simple with just yeast, flour water and salt. The dough came together really easily and with the warmth that we have been having recently it rose really quickly. Braiding the bread was the hardest part, though overall it was a fun challenge and everything turned out ok.

One of the reasons that I rarely make my own bread is because freshly home made bread is so addictively good, especially when still warm from the oven. I often find myself inhaling way more than I should before it has even had an chance to cool. The tsoureki was no different! The aroma of mastic, mahlep and orange tantalized me while the bread was baking and I could barely wait for it to cool down before digging in. The tsoureki was nice and soft and moist and yet light and fluffy with a nice bit of chew to it. The flavouring was subtle, but with the amazing aroma it was simply irresistible! I had more than a few slices topped with some melting butter.

Note: You can find the mastic resin and the mahlep at a local Greek or Turkish grocery store or order them online. If you cannot find them, you can replace them with other flavours such as vanilla and or cardamom.

Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

A brioche like sweet bread that is traditionally made for Easter.


Servings: makes 2 loaves

Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours

Printable Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk, luke warm
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water or milk or orange juice
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon mahlep, ground
  • 1 teaspoon mastic, ground
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten
Directions
  1. Mix the yeast into the milk, along with the sugar, salt and flour and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the water, butter, eggs, sugar, mahlep, mastic and orange zest into the yeast mixture.
  3. Mix the flour into the yeast mixture until it forms a dough.
  4. Knead the dough.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise to double its original size, about 2 hours.
  6. Punch the dough down, cut it into 6 parts and form 2 braids.
  7. Place the braid on a grease baking sheet and let rise to double its original size, about 1 hour.
  8. Brush with the egg wash.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
French Bread
Strawberry Danish Braid
Beer Bread

32 comments:

Little Inbox said...

I just got my very first bread baking book. Hopefully I can hands on to bake a simple bread soon.

Susan @ SGCC said...

That is a beautiful loaf of bread, Kevin. I know just what you mean. If I could get away with it, I'd devour the whole thing!

Memória said...

What a beautiful braided loaf, Kevin!! I've never heard of this type of bread. You rightly compared it to a brioche because brioches do have eggs and butter in the dough.

Amanda said...

That looks really good!

Sophie said...

Hello Kevin,

Your tsoureki looks very good,..;so appetizing too!

Joanne said...

Italians have a bread very similar to this but we use different spices and top it with sprinkles! I will have to try this. Your braid looks lovely.

Bellini Valli said...

I do not usually bake my own bread for the very same reason Kevin..it is just too good to stop at just one slice.

low carb pita bread said...

I think it looks so good in its "nice and simpple" version, that there is no need to go crazy with toppings. Either way, there is absolutely no chance to stop at two slices, I love warm bread.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your Tsoureki is perfect!

Cheers,

Rosa

Honeymoon bed breakfast said...

Thanks for sharing this tasty recipe. Its sound is really delicious. It is my favorite recipe and you adding some great delicious ingredients. Thanks again!

Best Regards,

meeso said...

That piece of bread with butter melting on top looks tooo gooood!!!

Justine said...

This looks wonderful and I've never heard of mahlep, so I guess I learned something new today!

chefany said...

Very nice braid Kevin! And thanks for the info on those spices...I always wondered...and now I must search the middle eastern stores to find them so I can make this beautiful bread!

...love Maegan said...

omg that looks unbelievable! I could eat bread and only bread for the rest of my life ...well, not without butter :)

Yushin Kato said...

I love Tsoureki!! My grandparents always have it whenever i go over to visit for easter :] my grandfather is Greek. It's beautiful and delicious!

Rambling Tart said...

You did a beautiful job, Kevin! I've never had this bread but it sounds delectable.

Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams said...

I've never heard of this bread but it sure looks delicious :) Thank you!

Frank said...

Awesome! Now to find some mastic and mahlep.
For great recipes and pix, this and Simply Recipes are at the top of my food blog list!

Jamie said...

Beautiful recipe! I love making my own bread, it is so therapeutic as well as so delicious. This is a beautiful bread and would be wonderful every day. I'd eat this for dessert!

Cristina @TeenieCakes said...

Beautiful bread and your braiding! I've never heard of mastic and mahlep...I'll have to do some research on it and where to find it. Do you think you'd want to try it again with the red eggs?

Kevin said...

Cristina @TeenieCakes: I think that next time I will try it with the red eggs and maybe a topping.

Kinz said...

LOOKS SO SOFT!

Veggie Belly said...

that is a gorgeous looking bread!

Maria said...

That is a beautiful loaf of Tsoureki! I could easily eat an entire loaf myself as well. Not that I should ...

M. said...

I strongly agree with the statement about homemade bread being terrible addictive....
Tsoureki looks so much like challah bread....I wonder if they taste similar???

eatme_delicious said...

Wow that looks amazing! But I don't think I'll be finding mastic or mahlep anytime soon so likely won't be making it..

low cab bread said...

It looks beautiful! The recipe doesn't have to be so complicated but I'm afraid mine wouldn't look so nice!

Sazji said...

It looks nice but I like it a little richer. My Greek aunts had a "lower octane" one for everyday, but for Easter they upped the butter and eggs. The recipe I use has 1 1/4 c each of milk, butter and sugar. 1 pk yeast mixed with 1/4 c warm water, 8 eggs, and your choice of seasonings (but mahlep is great). There are 10- and 12-egg versions out there too. ;) Try it!

eva mei and me said...

I would love to try this - you didn't say what type of flour to use - Plain or self raising ????

Kevin said...

eva mei and me: Plain all purpose flour.

rebeskedes said...

Usually in Greece, we use a special flour for Tsoureki, a pretty similar one to the enrichment wheat flour, but soft/plain works good as well. Also, mate, don't bother to put red eggs in. It's just an old tradition and it doesn't add something really special to the recipe.

Jackie said...

I made this yesterday! But a little different recipe! But it's wonderful! Almost like it was when we were stationed in Athens many years ago! I'll pin yours too and will try your version next year! Thanks!

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