tsoureki is the traditional greek easter bread. lightly sweetened with a hint of lemon, it’s delicious any time of day. not for the faint of heart but well worth the effort!
One of my absolute favorite traditions for Greek Easter is tsoureki. Tsoureki (τσουρέκι in Greek) is the traditional sweet yeast bread typically made every year on Holy Thursday, and eaten on Easter Sunday.
I’ve been watching my mom and my Yiayia make this bread since I was a little girl and this year, finally took a stab at it myself!
And let me tell you – it’s most definitely a labor of love. As with any almost any bread, it takes time and practice, but once you’ve got it down, you could do it in your sleep.
Most of the time this bread takes is hands off (just while it’s rising). The most labor intensive part is the braiding, but you can opt to just twist it (roll out one long rope and twist) if you don’t feel like spending the time braiding.
The shape is not going to impact the flavor at all, so just do what you have tolerance for!
It’s delicious fresh out of the oven as is, toasted with butter, served with eggs or made into french toast! Honestly, there’s really no wrong way to eat it. It’s truly that good.Print
tsoureki is the traditional greek easter bread. lightly sweetened with a hint of lemon, it’s delicious any time of day! not for the faint of heart but well worth the work!
- 8 cups bread flour (start with 3 cups and add as needed)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground mahlepi (I recommend buying the whole seeds & grinding yourself)*
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups milk (any kind)
- 3 packages (6 3/4 teaspoons) of dry yeast (Rapid Rise for best results)
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Optional: beaten egg for an egg wash
- In a large bowl, heat milk to 110 – 120 degrees F (about 1 minute in the microwave) then add add yeast, 1/4 cup of the sugar and 1 cup flour. Stir to combine, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour at room temperature or until bubbling.
- In large mixing bowl combine 3 cups flour, ground mahlepi, remaining sugar and salt. Mix well.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the beater paddle, beat softened butter and eggs until smooth.
- Replace the beater paddle with the dough hook on your mixer. Add flour mixture to the butter & egg mixture and mix at low speed until moistened. Fold in lemon zest and mix ~3 minutes at medium speed.
- Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on medium speed in between additions until a sticky dough has formed (you’ll probably have used 4-5 total cups of flour at this point). Place in greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until light and doubled, (~1-2 hours).
- After the first rise, punch down dough and remove from bowl. Add additional flour as needed until a firm dough had formed (probably another 3-4 more cups; you want the dough to be pliable enough to roll and shape).
- Take one of the 3 balls of dough and split into 3 more equal sections. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section into 3 long ropes (each rope should be ~12 inches long). Pinch the 3 rope pieces at the top to hold them together, then braid the rope and pinch at the bottom.** Place back on the parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with other remaining dough balls until you’ve formed 3 loaves. Cover and allow to rise for another 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Brush each loaf with beaten egg then bake each for 25-30 minutes on the the middle rack until golden brown.
* If you don’t have or can’t find mahlepi seeds, you can substitute 2 teaspoons of ground anise or 1 teaspoon of cardamom
** Note that you don’t need to do the braiding. You can also roll into one long rope then just twist.
Keywords: tsoureki, easter bread, greek easter bread, bread, sweet bread