Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
These Greek Easter breads are made from a plaited brioche-like dough. Traditionally, the eggs were dyed red to symbolise the blood of Christ.
Preparation: 35 minutes + 20 minutes baking time
- 450g Strong White Bread Flour
- 2 tbsp Caster Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1½ tsp Fast Action Dried Yeast
- Grated Zest of 1 Orange
- Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
- 50g Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 Medium Eggs, beaten
- 150ml Warm Semi-skimmed Milk
- 8 medium Eggs
For the topping:
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 tbsp Water
- Slivered Almonds or Sesame Seeds, for sprinkling
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and orange and lemon zests in a large mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the centre and add the butter, beaten eggs and milk.
- Mix to a soft dough, gradually incorporating the dry ingredients.
- Turn out on to an unfloured surface and knead for 8–10 minutes until smooth.
- Place in an oiled polythene bag and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Grease two baking sheets.
- Divide the dough into eight pieces. Take one piece, keeping the rest in the oiled bag to prevent it drying out.
- Cut this piece into three and, using your fingertips, roll out each third to 25cm.
- Plait these pieces together, joining the ends to form a ring.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and place an egg in the centre.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Cover both trays and prove until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200°C.
- Beat the egg yolk with the water and brush the breads with the egg glaze, avoiding touching the eggs themselves.
- Sprinkle with slivered almonds or sesame seeds.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm or cold.
To avoid the eggs cracking, make sure that they are cushioned on the dough rather than being in direct contact with the baking sheet.
Pretty Cotswold blue eggs are used here, but you can use the more widely available brown speckled eggs and decorate them using non-toxic felt pens.
This recipe is from Bread by Liz Herbert and published by Simon & Schuster 2009.