Sweet Easter bread

Sweet Easter bread

By
From
The Islands of Greece
Makes
2 loaves
Photographer
Steven Joyce

This brioche-like bread, tsoureki, is usually made for Easter. Like brioche, it’s lovely at breakfast-time. Other versions contain raisins, orange zest, fennel seeds or even chocolate chips, mixed into the dough before it rises. For a truly authentic tsoureki, add a pinch of ground mahlep: almond-flavoured ground sour cherry stones (pits).

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
140ml milk
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
75g caster sugar
500g strong white flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
150g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk, to brush
1 teaspoon flavourless vegetable oil, for the tray
3 tablespoons flaked almonds

Method

  1. Warm the milk very gently until just lukewarm. Whisk in the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes to become frothy.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and remaining sugar. Whisk the melted butter and the two beaten eggs together, then whisk into the yeast and milk mixture. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquid. Stir to combine, using your hands as the dough begins to come together. Knead, using your hands or a dough hook attached to a mixer, for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pliable. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave somewhere warm for 1–1½ hours or so, to rise and double in size.
  3. Oil a large baking tray.
  4. To shape the breads, knock back the dough to more or less its original size. Divide into 6. Shape each piece into a long rope about 2 cm across and 30 cm long. Lie 3 pieces next to each and pinch the ends together, wetting the ends to help them stick. Then gently plait the ropes of dough together. When you reach the end of the ropes, tuck the ends under neatly. Repeat with the other 3 ropes. You will now have 2 plaited loaves. Place on the prepared baking tray, cover with plastic wrap and place somewhere warm for 20 minutes to rise again.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  6. Whisk the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush each loaf with the egg wash and scatter over the almonds. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until risen and golden all over. If the top is browning too fast after 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature by 10ºC or so and keep an eye on it for the remainder of the cooking time.
  7. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Don’t break into the bread when it is still hot, tempting as that may be, as much of the moisture will escape if you do, which can make the bread dry.
Tags:
The Islands of Greece
Rebecca
Seal
Greek
Greece
Europe
European
Mediterranean
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