The Greek Easter is finally upon us and in celebration I thought I would share an Easter recipe with you.
Tsoureki (pronounced tchew-reh-kee) is the traditional sweet bread of Greek Easter, served to break the Lenten fast. It is traditionally braided, with red-dyed hard boiled eggs embedded in the middle.
The three dough ropes plaited together symbolise the Holy Trinity and the red eggs symbolise the blood shed by Christ. After the bread is eaten a special game of Greek Egg Fighting then ensues (which symbolizes Christ breaking from the tomb). This involves trying to smash the other person’s egg with your own egg.
If you are of a particularly competitive nature, one cheeky tip from my mother is to use red nail varnish instead of dye. This will make the egg extra hard and you are sure to emerge the winner. My mother has held the title of “Champion Egg Smasher” for several years and remains, as yet, unbeatable.
3 teaspoons (10g) dried yeast
1/3 cup (75g) castor sugar
1 cup (250ml) warm milk
3 1/2 cups (525g) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
90g melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 egg, lightly beaten, extra
1 tablespoon finely chopped blanched almonds
What to do:
- Combine yeast, 2 teaspoons, of the sugar and milk in small bowl, cover, stand in warm place about 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy. Sift flour, salt and spices into large bowl, stir in remaining sugar and combined yeast mixture, butter, eggs and rind, mix to a soft dough.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover, stand in warm place for about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide dough into 3 pieces, roll into 60cm strands. Plait strands, place on lightly greased oven tray, shape into 24cm ring, pinch ends to seal.
- Red-Dyed Eggs: Combine dye, vinegar and warm water in jug, stir to dissolve dye. Wash eggs well, place in pan, cover with cold water. Bring to boil, pour in dye mixture, boil for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from pan and leave to cool. Polish eggs with lightly oiled cloth before using.
- Press red-dyed eggs firmly around the bread ring at roughly 6cm intervals. Cover, stand in warm place for about 40 minutes or until dough has almost doubled in size.
- Brush with extra egg and sprinkle with nuts (optional). Bake in moderately hot oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to moderate, and bake for another further 25 minutes or until browned.
Featured Tsoureki image from the lovely Krystina Kalapothakos at Kouzounas Kitchen – her recipe can be found on her blog here Credit: Nestor Z Photography