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Greek Easter Bread

Frances Karulas from Canada

Serves
6
Preparation
5 hours
Cooks in
35 minutes
Country of origin
Greece

We moved from Greece to Canada when I was 5 years old. Like many immigrants, while my parents were very thankful to their new land for the
opportunities it provided, they clung passionately to their old ways of life, missing all that they’d left behind. We spoke Greek at home, ate
mostly traditional food (no one knew how to cook anything else anyway) and once we could afford it, spent every summer we could back “home”.
At first I was weary of those trips, weeks spent in a small village, living in an old farmhouse where chickens roamed the yard. As I grew older though,
I came to love those summers and the little village started to be a magical place where adventures could be had and a new piece of my history could be discovered at every turn

It was during one of those summers that I first watched my grandmother make “tsoureki”- our traditional Easter bread. Since we could never be in the
village at Easter time she decided she’d give us a taste of Easter in July. I remember being in awe as I realized just how much work went into making
those little loaves of bread.

I watched for hours as she mixed and kneaded and waited for her dough to rise. And when the rising was done she kneaded again and braided and waited once more for her dough to be ready for baking. All told the process took over five hours of hard labour, but I don’t remember my grandmother
complaining once. She smiled the whole time as she told me how her grandmother had taught her what she was now teaching me and how the smell
of the bread always brought back wonderful memories of her grandmother’s kitchen.

This past Easter I brought my daughter to my own mother’s house for the first time to help bake our Easter bread. At five years old, she doesn’t
yet understand how much work goes into the whole process, but the smell of the bread baking already makes her think of her grandmother’s house and I feel so lucky that she’ll have the same beautiful Easter memories that I do.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon mahlepi
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 zest of orange, finely grated
  • 1 egg for the glaze
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds for topping

Method

  • Mix the following dry ingredients: flour, mahlepi, salt and orange zest.
  • Thoroughly beat the eggs with the sugar, until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  • Heat milk with butter until butter is melted and the mixture is uniform, add yeast.
  • Add your milk mixture to the eggs and beat again until everything is thoroughly mixed.
  • Make a hole in your dry ingredients and slowly pour the wet mixture in. Mix with one hand while adding the wet ingredients with the other if possible. If not pour a little at a time and keep adding until you have a dough. Knead the dough until soft. Put your dough in a heat-proof bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Put it in the oven which has been pre-heated at the lowest setting. Let rise in the heat for 3 full hours.
  • Once 3 hours have passed, remove dough from oven and separate it into sections which will make your strands of the tsoureki’s braids. Once sections have been separated, roll them into long strands and create a loaf using 3 strands, braided together. This recipe will make approximately 6 loaves, so you’ll need 18 total sections for braiding.
  • Put your braids back in your pans and cover again with greased plastic. Place in your warm oven for 1 more hour of rising.
  • Glaze your loaves with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds after this final hour of rising.
  • Heat oven to 350C and bake bread for 35min, or until dark golden brown on top.
  • Enjoy your delicious bread!

tsoureki2016


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