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)
A brioche like sweet bread that is traditionally made for Easter.
- 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
- Mix the yeast into the milk, along with the sugar, salt and flour and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Mix the water, butter, eggs, sugar, mahlep, mastic and orange zest into the yeast mixture.
- Mix the flour into the yeast mixture until it forms a dough.
- Knead the dough.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise to double its original size, about 2 hours.
- Punch the dough down, cut it into 6 parts and form 2 braids.
- Place the braid on a grease baking sheet and let rise to double its original size, about 1 hour.
- Brush with the egg wash.
- Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.