Among the wonderful Easter treats and smells, Easter biscuits compete with tsoureki.
Being on a school holiday during the Holy Week, I was always mingling in mum’s and grand-ma’s legs. There was too much cooking to be done, preparing for the Sunday feast. I was always looking forward to making Easter biscuits and actually, just playing with dough.
There is nothing more relaxing than handling the supple, smooth buttery mix. Pinching little walnut size bits and rolling it out to a thin sticks to shape the dough snail-like or plate it. Oh wait, there is something better still! Tasting them once baked.
I dug out an almost ancient recipe from Smyrnan biscuits, perfumed with orange zest and butter based. Also, the leavening agent used is baker’s ammonia, a bit old fashioned, a predecessor of baking powder. Some say the aroma of bicarbonate ammonium stays in the cookie. Truth is though, if the biscuit is small it doesn’t and it gives it an extra crunch. Here, in Athens, baker’s ammonia is ubiquitous and truly cheap to buy. If you cannot find it though, it can be perfectly replaced with baking powder.
Here is what you will need for koulourakia:
Ingredients (makes approx. 40 pieces):
- 200 gr concentrated butter (you can use unsalted butter too)
- 200 gr sugar
- 750 gr sieved all purpose flour
- 4 whole eggs and 2 egg whites for brushing
- 80 ml milk
- 2 gr (½ tsp) baker’s ammonia
- 2 ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 1 orange for its zest
What to do:
Warm up the milk and dissolve the baker’s ammonia once warm.
Beat the eggs with the sugar.
Melt the butter
Sieve the flour and add the salt.
Make a hole and add all the liquids, i.e. melted butter, milk with baker’s ammonia and the egg-sugar mix.
Mix well. It’s going to be ready when the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
Shape the biscuits in twirls, plates or snails (as I like to call them).
Bake for 20 minutes at 180oC.
They are very morish and wonderful with a cup of milk for breakfast.
Have a wonderful Easter for those celebrating. It’s a rather short post as there is a lot of cooking to be done for tomorrow! I will keep you posted on how that goes
With love from Athens