Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki]

Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki] | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Greek #Easter

I love holiday traditions of every shape and size, especially if they’re food-related. I feel like Easter sometimes gets the short end of the stick when it comes to food traditions. Thanksgiving is the holiday that is most especially all about the food, and Christmas gives us an excuse to bake cookies and make candy for the better part of a month. However, when it comes to Easter, everyone is gearing up for summer, no one wants to eat heavy, and the beginning of spring ushers in cravings for things that are light and fresh.

Growing up, there were three things that always meant Easter was right around the corner: pigu, bacon cheese bread, and fried dough “bow ties” sprinkled in powdered sugar. My grandma made all of those, and I have such vivid memories of all of us spilling into her house after Good Friday services to devour trays of pigu while we watched movies or played games. The bacon cheese bread had to wait for Saturday, and the fried dough made its appearance on Easter Sunday.

Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki] | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Greek #Easter

Over the last few years, I have added more traditional Easter breads to my repertoire: Italian Easter bread, paska (Polish/Ukranian Easter bread), and hot cross buns have all graced my table at one point or another. When I ran across a recipe for a version of Greek Easter bread, I wanted to try it immediately.

The Greek bread is very similar to the Italian bread in that it is a sweet bread infused with orange flavor. While the Italian bread also includes anise flavoring and is covered in a thin icing and sprinkles, the Greek bread is braided with dyed red eggs nestled inside for decoration.

Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki] | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Greek #Easter

Sweet bread with a beautiful brown crust?

I don’t think I need to tell you how little time it took for one loaf of this bread to disappear in my house. It rivaled the great ciabatta take-down.

I love accumulating holiday recipes more than most anything food-related, so I’m thrilled to add another fabulous recipe to my collection!

Do you have any special Easter food traditions or recipes in your family?

Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki] | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Greek #Easter

One year ago: Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Two years ago: Homemade Rum Cake and Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Three years ago: Deviled Eggs
Four years ago: Dark Chocolate Truffles
Five years ago: Pigu

Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki]

Yield: 2 loaves

Prep Time: 4 hours

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours

A sweet orange-scented bread, braided and baked with red Easter eggs.

Ingredients:

For the Red Easter Eggs:
10 brown eggs
6 cups water (plus more for boiling and chilling the eggs)
1 ounce red food coloring
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

For the Bread:
2½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
4½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, at room temperature
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Zest of 2 oranges
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 cups bread flour

For the Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

1. Make the Red Easter Eggs: Place the eggs in a large pot, cover with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand for 7 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and let stand until chilled, about 10 minutes, then drain.

2. Pour the 6 cups of water into a large bowl. Stir in the food coloring and vinegar until combined. Add the eggs and let stand until deep red, about 2 hours. Lightly rinse the eggs under running water and let dry on a paper towel-lined plate.

3. Make the Bread: Combine 1½ cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; whisk on low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium-low and gradually add the warmed milk to the mixer bowl, scraping down the sides if necessary. Mix until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

4. Return the mixer bowl to the stand and attach the dough hook. On medium speed, mix in the lightly beaten eggs in 3 additions. Add the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Add the butter, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla, mixing until combined. Gradually mix in 2 cups of the bread flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary; then add enough of the remaining bread flour to form a soft, slightly sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

5. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is very smooth, about 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until 1½ times its original size, about 1½ hours.

6. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or sharp knife. Set one half aside and cover with plastic wrap. Cut the other half into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into a 16-inch-long rope. Loosely braid the ropes together, pinching the ends to seal, and place the loaf diagonally on one of the baking sheets. Repeat the process with the other half of dough. Loosely cover each loaf with plastic wrap coated with non-stick cooking spray and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.

7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and adjust the racks to the upper-third and lower-third positions.

8. Transfer the baking sheets to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove one baking sheet from the oven. Quickly and carefully push 5 eggs, larger side down, into the center of the loaf, spacing them evenly down the length. Brush the dough with the egg wash and immediately return to the oven. Repeat with the second loaf.

9. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the loaves are deep golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 25 minutes more. Transfer the bread to a wire rack; let cool completely before slicing. The bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in foil, for up to 2 days.

Note: The recipe advises not eating the decorative red eggs.

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

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29 Responses to “Greek Easter Bread [Tsoureki]”

  1. Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) on April 17, 2014 at 3:10 am

    I am so envious of your family food traditions! I had never heard of pigu before, they look/sound scrumptious. Your Greek Easter bread looks so pretty, the crumb is perfect!

    Reply

  2. Katrina @ WVS on April 17, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I’ve always wanted to make my own Easter bread! This recipe is perfect!

    Reply

  3. Lori on April 17, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I too love holiday traditions! My sister and I are half italian and half greek. We try to infuse a little of both traditions in the holidays. For Easter we include Easter egg bread and pizza rustica. My grandma also always made grain pie, but none of us like it, so we don’t include that anymore. One of my grandmother’s sisters made italian lemon cookies. This year I’m trying ricotta cookies instead. I also make greek cookies, koulourakia, a crunchy, sesame braided, biscuit. Happy Easter!

    Reply

  4. Maria on April 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I live in Crete, Greece and i just finished my tsourekia! We do not put orange zest, we use mastiha and mahlepi fo, and also we use fresh yeast!

    Reply

    • Daphne on April 17th, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Hi Maria: I am Greek American and have never made Tsourekia but would love to try it sometime. Can you give me a recipe please?

      Reply

    • GeekLady on April 21st, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Do you use anise, Maria? Many of the recipes I see use it, but it puzzles me because all the descriptions I see refer to cardamom, mahlep, or mastic. When I started making it, I just used cardamom because I didn’t have a source for mahlep or mastic. Now that I’ve found a source for them, my family won’t allowed me to experiment!

      I also use eggs dyed red with yellow onion skins because the food coloring eggs bled so terribly.

      I love lambropsomo though. It’s my older son’s first memory about Easter, “that bread with the red eggs!”

      Reply

    • Robyn on May 10th, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      I was lucky enough to visit Crete last June and I fell in love with it! What a beautiful place to call home! MMM….and don’t even get me started on the food!

      Reply

  5. Lisa @ Simple Pairings on April 17, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Looks so good! Those red eggs really add a decorative pop of color.

    Reply

  6. Ilona @ Ilona's Passion on April 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Cool idea:)

    Reply

  7. marcie on April 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Food traditions are what holidays are all about for me. We would have a traditional Greek Easter growing up with leg of lamb, but this bread never appeared! This is a beautiful loaf of bread, and I’d love to try it. Pinning!

    Reply

  8. Diana on April 17, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Looks really good! I may tackle this recipe over the weekend!

    Reply

  9. Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog on April 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

    ok, I’m doing a little happy dance over here after seeing this post. My dad LOVES Greek Easter Bread (the brighter red the eggs the better) so I am going to make this and surprise him, I know it’ll be a total hit!! Thanks for posting this recipe.

    Reply

  10. Beth R. on April 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    This bread sounds so yummy. Iv made Easter bread… but the loaf was braided then shaped into a ring. Doing that would take up less space and look great.

    Reply

  11. amanda @ fake ginger on April 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve wanted to make a bread like this for years but the eggs intimidate me! It’s gorgeous!

    Reply

  12. Ann on April 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    My mom used to make a version of this, but she would use raw eggs and would color them with different colors. After braiding the dough, she would set the eggs the braid, then do the second rise and bake them. The eggs come out just like hard boiled eggs. We would eat the eggs. My mom stored the bread in the refigerator.

    Reply

  13. dina on April 17, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    it looks great!

    Reply

  14. Emily on April 17, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Bread! Yum! This is definitely on the must try list. Thanks!

    Reply

  15. Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking on April 17, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    This Easter bread looks amazing! Another traditional recipe to add to my list of easter breads to try!!! Your braid is gorgeous! I’m pretty sure mine would be lopsided or something equally tragic!

    Reply

  16. Hari Chandana on April 17, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    looks super pretty and tempting.. thanks for sharing!!

    Reply

  17. Melanie on April 18, 2014 at 1:40 am

    This sweet bread cannot be called tsoureki because it is missing the key ingredient- mahlepi. Mahlepi comes from the cherry seed and is ground up then added to the batter. It can easily be found in Greek supermarkets. The mahlepi is what gives this bread its distinct flavor. Please do a little more research when you post recipes from other countries. Other than that,I love your site!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 18th, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Melanie, I actually did quite a bit of research on Greek Easter bread (as I do for anything new that I make), including referencing multiple Greek cookbooks. All of the recipes for Greek Easter bread that I found (at least five) varied from one another and not a single one included mahlepi.

      Reply

      • kanella on April 23rd, 2014 at 9:07 pm

        A simple Google search yields plenty of recipes that include mahelpi. I can’t imagine your would think that Martha would provide an authentic recipe. I would be interested in the Greek cookbooks you referenced. I like your blog but, don’t appreciate you selling this approach to tsoureki.

        Reply

  18. Anisa - The Macadames on April 18, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Love your traditions with food – you’re so talented!
    Anisa – The Macadames. xx
    http://www.themacadames.com

    Reply

  19. Graham @ Glazed & Confused on April 18, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I’ve actually never ever had this Easter bread before.
    Save me a piece! LOL

    Reply

  20. Έξυπνες Συμβουλές on April 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    lovely!! Happy Easter!

    Reply

  21. miss messy on April 20, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Wow this is stunning! I love this. What a great traditional bread. I’ve never heard of it but I love new things.

    Reply

  22. Buy cakes online in hyderabad on April 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Great to see this, Happy easter to you :)

    Celebrations kart

    Reply

  23. Liza on April 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I am Greek American and have been enjoying this bread every Easter since I can remember. I do have to agree with the other Greek/Greek Americans that have commented that this bread traditionally has mahlepi in it. This is what gives the bread its distinct flavor, not orange juice and zest.

    Reply

  24. Tanya Stamoulis on May 9, 2014 at 11:53 am

    The great thing about recipes is the ability to tweak it to your personal taste. Yes tsoureki, as with other traditional Greek recipes, has the ‘base’ recipe but there are always different versions. I personally have 5 different recipes for tsoureki given to me by various friends and family. 3 contain Mahlepi, and 2 do not. They each have their distinct flavors and are all delicious. It’s a matter of preference. In the end, I do prefer my mom’s that contain’s the Mahlepi…but noone’s cooking is like your mom’s!

    Reply

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