with lots of tips
Greek Easter is here and I have thrown myself into a tsoureki making frenzy. Every household has a favourite recipe to make these sweet loafs, I have grandma Ntina’s that I posted last year. Of course I made some tsoureki again this year, braided one this time. I braided my tsoureki with two designs: with 6 strands for largers tsoureki and a more playfull and slightly easier braid with 2 strands for smaller tsoureki or for large and round tsoureki.
Head straight to the recipe
Head straight to the braiding videos
I was very happy to have some online company for tsoureki this year. I was chatting with a really good friend, who has never made tsoureki before. Mum of two toddlers, as you can imagine time is precious, so here are a few tips to make the process a little easier for anyone attempting tsoureki baking for the first time.
Proofing the Yeast
The little cakes of fresh yeast are very popular in Greece, readily available from the super-market or the baker’s, they are preferred to dry yeast sachets. Proofing is essential to determine how fresh the yeast is and thus make sure it will activate and raise that bake. There are two crucial points to activate it correctly: temperature and feed.
The liquid has to be lukewarm, not cold as it will not activate and certainly not boiling hot as it will kill it. For feed, add a spoonful of sugar and a small amount of flour. If the yeast has not raised with bubbles, discard and make a fresh batch.
As with any serious bake, you have to take your time and the same goes for tsoureki. A few timing tips to help you schedule it.
Activating the yeast takes 20-30 minutes. It will need to be in a warm place, if you have the heating on, place your bowl next to it. If not convenient, switch on your oven at lowest temperature and preheat for 10 minutes. Then place in the yeast to activate.
Resting the dough
Waiting for tsoureki to raise, normally it takes 2-3 hours. If you want to speed up the process you can use the oven again, preheated at lowest temperature and switched off. Check back in an hour to see your results.
The dough is ready for braiding when you poke it and it leaves a little dent in it. If the dough comes back to its previous state there is still room to raise, so you can leave it a little longer.
Rest again after braiding.
Similar to resting the dough, you need to rest the braided dough. The time is the same, 2-3 hours or in a switched off and pre-heated oven for quicker results.
Only 20 minutes, at 180C in a preheated oven that’s the easy part.
- 120 ml lukewarm water
- 50 gr fresh yeast (or 17 gr dried yeast)
- 1 kg flour, sieved, high protein – look for at least 14%
- 250 gr butter, unsalted plus some extra for plaiting
- 250 gr sugar
- 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks
- 200 ml condensed milk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp mahlepi seeds
- 1 tsp mastic powder or 5 mastic crystals
- 1 orange for its zest
- A handful of almond flakes or sesame seeds (optional)
What to do:
- Boil the mahlepi seeds in approximately 200ml of water and remove from the heat when reduced to half. Strain and keep the flavoured water
- Dilute the yeast in 100 ml lukewarm water and 1 tsp of sugar. Add approximately 100 gr of flour and mix well.
- Cover and set aside in a warm place to activate the yeast. This should be done within 20 minutes.
- Beat the eggs and egg yolks with ½ tsp of salt using a whisk, then set aside.
- Melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Mix until the sugar has dissolved completely.
- Warm up the milk and add to the butter and sugar mix you just prepared.
- Let the mixture cool down and then add the eggs.
- Stir in the mahlab flavouring, orange zest and mastic powder.
- Take half of the sieved flour and start adding it gradually to the mixture.
- Once you have mixed in half the flour, add the activated yeast you prepared earlier.
- Now gradually fold in the rest of the flour, gently without mixing.
- Keep on adding flour until you use it all up. Your dough will be ready when it no longer sticks to the sides of your mixing bowl.
- Cover your dough and set it aside in a warm place. It should rise, roughly doubling in volume within two hours.
- Before baking, brush the tsoureki with an eggwash (diluted egg white and water) or some condensed milk. At this stage you can decorate with a few almonds or sesame seeds
- Once braided and rested again, bake for 20 minutes, at 180 ºC in a preheated oven.
Braiding, with 6 strands
To make your strands, get 6 equal sized dough balls of approx. 85 gr, dust the faintest amount of flour on your working surface and try to make your strands as even as possible. To achieve this, gently push outwards. For the rest head to the video, 10 times better than words.
Here is the end result, front and back side, before baking
and braiding with 2 strands
Here is the end result, should you decide to make a large two strands braided tsoureki and make it round.
or for smaller tsoureki
Happy baking & Happy Easter everyone!
from Athens with loveby