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