1. Food

Tsoureki: Sweet Egg Bread (Simplified)

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Greek Egg Bread - Tsoureki

Tsoureki - Sweet Egg Bread

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

In Greek: τσουρέκι, say: tsoo-REH-kee

This version of tsoureki, a sweet egg bread, is simpler than other versions because it doesn't call for some of the hard-to-find ingredients in more traditional loaves - and it produces a delicious result. Tsoureki may be best known as an Easter tradition, but it's a delightful sweet bread often served as a dessert bread, breakfast bread, or snack.

Prep Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cakes of compressed yeast
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 cup of flour + 7 cups of flour (total 8 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 cup of condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 pound of unsalted butter or margarine
  • grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 egg yolks, whisked
  • red eggs (optional)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • sesame seeds or blanched sliced almonds (optional)

Preparation:

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the yeast in water and beat well to mix, creating a smooth batter. Cover tightly (with a close fitting cover or plastic wrap) and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise.

In a large saucepan, combine condensed milk, butter or margarine, sugar, and grated lemon peel, and heat to lukewarm.

Add yeast/flour mixture, salt, 2 whisked eggs, whisked egg yolks, and stir well.

Transfer to a large bowl and add flour slowly, to create a soft dough. Knead for about 15-20 minutes by hand on a floured surface (or 10 minutes with a mixer). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

Punch the dough down, knead for a few minutes, and form into three loaves.

To make braided loaves:

  • Divide the dough into 3 parts, and each of those into 3 parts. Using hands, roll each part into a long rope, about 15 inches long. Braid each set of three ropes into loaves, and tuck ends under.

Place loaves on greased cookie sheets or baking pans, cover with clean kitchen towels, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Using a pastry brush, brush loaves with beaten egg. (Optional: Sprinkle with sugar, sesame seeds, or blanched almond slices.)

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30 minutes or until golden brown. (Tap on the bottom; loaves should sound hollow.) Cool on racks.

Yield: 3 loaves

Easter Note: If making the loaves for Easter, tuck one or more dyed red eggs into the loaves before brushing with egg and baking.

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