Easter in Greece is amazing, and the tsoureki bread is absolutely delicious! The first time I encountered this traditional holiday bread was 4 years ago – on my first pilgrimage to Greece. It was a trip I’d longed to do since before I was a teenager, and finally the opportunity presented itself. Sure, I’d seen tsoureki before then, I’d eaten it before then, but it wasn’t until that trip that I understood the significance of how the bread is made.

Like so many other breads around the world, this one has special religious associations. Like Jewish challah, or Italian panettone, this Greek bread is the heart and soul of the party. Made with the usual suspects; flour, water, and yeast, it’s the luxury goods that really elevate it. Eggs, butter, milk and sugar – all the best and most luxurious flavours that were avoided during Lent are now eaten.

It’s also about the appearance; a plaited bread always looks incredible. But, it’s this plaiting that ties together the Greek’s faith, one strand for each of the Holy Trinity. You don’t have to be religious to eat this bread. It’s a beloved bread across all of the Greek diaspora, and you can eat it at any time of the year. In fact, you should try it with a certain chocolate-hazelnut spread at breakfast, it’s not to be missed!

Panagia Kera, near Kritsa on Crete

What you need to know about Tsoureki

This is not a quick recipe – although this recipe does include a few cheats to speed things up. If you live somewhere cooler, then the proving time feels like forever. But, it’s easy to mix together, and then it’s just a matter of waiting. The bread bakes at a low-med oven, and it’s golden-brown appearance is the sing it’s ready. You’ll smell it long before you see the colour change, the aroma will fill your kitchen with temptation.

Also, take the time to roll out the strands evenly – no lumps, bumps, or dips. You’ll get a much better end bake if the braid is tight and even, so don’t rush it! The braid itself needs to be firm, but not tight, or your dough will fight to puff up during proving. So, not too tight, not too loose, just nice and even and you’ll get the perfect tsoureki loaf.

Greek Easter Bread Equipment

Need to know more about how to make your tsoureki, and what equipment you’ll need? Nothing you don’t already have or know! At the end of the day, it’s a bread like any other loaf, so you’ll need:

  • Stand-mixer w/bowl
  • Scales
  • Tea towel
  • Measuring jug, cups, spoons
  • Saucepan (small)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking tray
  • Pastry brush

Tsoureki Bread Ingredients

As I mentioned before, the ingredients for this tsoureki are the standard flour, water, sugar, and yeast. But you will also need a few things from your larder, including: butter, eggs, and milk. If you want a truly authentic loaf, you’ll also want mastiha and mahlep – these flavourings are generally hard to find outside of Greece, so you can use a combination of ground Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Clove for a tangy and aromatic bread.

So now you know what’s in it, let’s make some tsoureki!

Tsoureki - Greek Easter Bread

Prep Time: 240 min Cook Time: 35 min Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
Course Afternoon Tea, Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Greek
Keyword bread, butter, dough, Easter, eggs, enriched, Greek
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Approx. Proving Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings 1 Loaf

Equipment

  • Stand mixer
  • Scales
  • Tea towel
  • Measuring jug, cups, spoons
  • Small saucepan
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking tray
  • pastry brush

Ingredients

  • 70 g Butter
  • 70 g Milk at room temp.
  • 130 g Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, medium at room temp.
  • 450 g Bread flour (approx.)
  • 11 g Active Instant Yeast
  • 50 g Water, lukewarm
  • Zest of ½ orange, you can use lemon
  • ½ tsp each, ground Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves

Decoration

  • 1 egg and 1 tbsp water
  • almond silvers for garnish

Syrup

  • 75 g Caster sugar
  • 75 g Water
  • 1 Cinnamon quill

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and add it to the milk - this should then be lukewarm - add the warm water and sugar, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
    Check for temperature; blood temp, no hotter. Add the yeast, and leave to activate and become foamy.
    Note: if the water/milk/butter is hotter than blood temp. you can kill the yeast.
  • Once foamy, whisk the eggs and add them to the yeast mix, stir thoroughly combine.
  • In the mixer's bowl, combine the flour, zest, and spices, mixing thoroughly. Use the dough hook, and add the yeast mix. On a low speed, mix until it's all combined and forms a loose ball.
  • Continue to 'knead' the dough in the mixer bowl for a further 10mins, on medium speed. The dough should look silken and smooth, but have a slightly sticky feel when touched. Try not to add additional flour, as the dough relies on moistness for it's soft texture.
  • Place the tea towel over the bowl, and leave to prove until it has doubled in size - anywhere between 1-3hours temperature depending.
  • Knock-back the dough to deflate it, and remove the dough to a floured surface. If possible, weigh the dough and divide evenly into 3 equal portions, and roll out to make long and thick strands.
  • Line the three strands next to each other, and pinch the top together. Once secured, plait the three strands, being careful to pinch the end as you did the top. Tuck the pinched ends underneath, so it looks pretty.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on your baking tray, and carefully lift the shaped tsoureki onto the tray. Cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove again for approx. 30mins, or until it has almost doubled in size again.
  • Whisk together the 'decoration' egg and water, and brush the top of the loaf. Once that's done, scatter the slivered almonds across the top - be careful not to deflate the loaf!
  • Bake at 160˚C for about 25-35 mins. or until golden brown.
  • The syrup is optional, but does add an element of luxury. To create the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat, add the cinnamon quill, and boil for approx. 2mins.
    When the tsoureki is ready, remove it from the oven, and immediately brush over the syrup, allowing it to soak in.
  • Leave the loaf to cool to room temp. before eating, and enjoy with a hot drink (it's great at breakfast!).
  • Keep your tsoureki in a tied plastic bag, and it should last 5-7 days at room temp.

Notes

Note: Traditional tsoureki uses mastica and mahlep for flavouring, but sadly these are rarely available outside of Greece. The spice combination used is a rough approximation of the combination.

Thanks for checking out this week’s blog post on how to make Tsoureki Greek Easter Bread! I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipe, and that you’re able to join me, Chef Kit, for the next cooking workshop this Friday.

If you do attend the cook alongs, please share a photo of your dish on your social media accounts, and use the hashtag: #LarderPantryandGarden. 

Don’t forget, LPaG  is on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, and you can also support my work via Patreon!

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