If you have ever spent Easter in Greece, you are probably very familiar with the smell of tsourekia emanating from all the bakeries, and we do have many, hinting that the end of fasting is approaching and it will not be long before we can all 'crack our red died eggs' wishing 'Christ is Risen' to each other. I struggled until I found the very strong Shipton Mill Canadian flour to get the texture that tsoureki should have. This recipe is utterly delicious and if you can;t get hold of the delightful masticha for its pine/cedar flavour, just flavour your tsoureki with the spices that you enjoy. Wonderful toasted for breakfast but it also makes the lightest 'bread and butter' pudding I have ever had! I will send the recipe for the tsoureki bread and butter pudding with my Easter newsletter, should you wish to subscribe on www.irinicooks.com
A word of warning: this as many of my dessert or bake recipes is not as sweet as one expect to find in Greece. For the traditional version, you could add another 50-75g sugar.
Ingredients (makes 4 tsourekia)
200g condensed milk
275g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150ml sunflower oil
150ml melted butter, plus extra for kneading
100g fresh yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1.4-1.5kg strong flour
1 tsp masticha tears, ground into powder
1 tsp mahlepi
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ orange, juice and zest
1 egg white for brushing
2-3 tbsp almond flakes
In a medium sized pan melt over low heat the sugar and the condensed milk stirring continuously. Add the beaten eggs, sunflower oil and vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate everything together. Leave until tepid before using.
In a large bowl if kneading by hand, or the bowl of your standing mixer, put 400ml tepid water and melt the fresh yeast by whisking it thoroughly. Add the contents of the saucepan to the yeast and all the remaining ingredients apart from the flour. Whisk to mix well.
Start adding the flour gradually mixing with your hands continuously. You should aim for a dough that is soft and pliable, perhaps even a little sticky. The way to deal with that and help with the texture of the dough is to grease your hands with a little melted butter and continue kneading. By hand, knead for around 10 minutes for a glossy and stringy dough, in the mixer you will need less kneading time, around 6-7 minutes on medium speed.
Put the dough in a slightly greased large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and put in your oven which should be preheated at 50 0C and then switched off. Leave the dough in the oven for 2-3 hours until it doubles in volume.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch out the air from it and roll into a thick sausage shape. Cut into 4 equal size pieces and roll again each one into a sausage shape. Cut each again in three or four. I use four strands to make my plats but you can make them with only three.
You may leave your plats straight or join their two ends to form a round ‘koulouri’ shape. Put the tsourekia onto lined baking tins and leave to rise again. Do not put them anywhere where the temperature is over 40 degrees as the dough will spread and the tsourekia will end up being flat.
When the tsourekia have risen, beat the egg white to loosen and brush them. Sprinkle with almond flakes or other things you like such as poppy seeds, sesame, etc.
Preheat the oven to 180 0C and bake the tsourekia for 25-30 minutes. Place a shallow tin with some boiling water on the bottom of the oven for even fluffier tsourekia.
If you make smaller or bigger tsourekia, you will need to adjust the baking time.
Added by: Irini Tzortzoglou
Due to a temporary suspension of some services by couriers, we are currently unable to offer delivery to the Republic of Ireland, or overseas. This is being looked into urgently, and as soon as services resume we’ll update you here. Deliveries to Northern Ireland can now begin again.
If you live in the Republic of Ireland, please don’t order for the moment, as we are unable to get the order to you.
Keep safe and well
The Shipton Millers