EASTER ORANGE BREAD (TSOUREKI) ΤΣΟΥΡΈΚΙ

By Christina Loucas
http://www.afroditeskitchen.com
@afroditeskitchen

Christina Loucas was raised on Vancouver Island, Canada by Greek-Cypriot parents. She worked for six years as an international arbitration lawyer in London, Singapore and Canada after a law degree from Oxford.

This is a delicate, sweet, orange-scented braided bread that reminds me a bit of challah and is made at Easter in Cyprus. You can tell if it is a good tsoureki because you will see little threads when you tear open a piece. This characteristic is created because of the way the dough is kneaded. This bread also makes for fantastic French toast when it is too old to be enjoyed plain.

Ingredients
  • 1 envelope yeast (8 g)

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) lukewarm milk

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) + 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar, divided

  • 1 & 1/4 lb (550 g) all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 tsp (4 ml) mahleb powder

  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) mastic powder

  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) vanilla powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) melted butter

  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh orange juice

  • 1/2 Tbsp (7 ml) orange zest

  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, milk and 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar.
  2. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 10 minutes until frothy.
  3. In another large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a third bowl, beat the eggs and remaining sugar on high speed for 7 minutes.
  4. Add the melted butter to the flour mixture with the orange juice, yeast mixture and egg mixture; mix together with your hands until a dough forms. Vigorously knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic, using your thumbs to press the top of the dough downwards towards you then away from you—this will create the nice texture. Create a ball with the dough and place it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a couple tea towels. Let it rest for 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, then divide each piece into a further 3 ropes and create 3 braids. Place on a baking tray. Cover the braids with a tea towel and let them rise for 1 ó hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 °F (160 °C). Before placing the braids in the oven, brush with egg wash. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Makes 3 braided loaves.

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