Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Easter bread - tsoureki

This sweet bread is part of the traditional midnight supper early on Easter Sunday morning after the Resurrection Service. The three dough ropes plaited together symbolise the Holy Trinity; the red eggs symbolise the blood shed by Christ. It is best made on the day of serving but most people buy it or a generous Mum or Aunty will make one for you. It is delicious toasted after that and like all breads, can be frozen for use after Easter.
 
Makes one loaf. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-forced).
Ingredients:
1c milk
2t dried yeast
1t caster sugar
1/2c plain flour
150g butter
2 eggs
1T zest orange
1/2t aniseed or mahlepi and masticha mix for a more authentic taste
1/2t salt
1/3c caster sugar
3c plain flour
2 egg yolks
2T milk
 
Method:
  1. Place one cup of milk in a bowl, sprinkle in two teaspoons (7 grams) of dried yeast and one teaspoon caster sugar and whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in half a cup of sifted flour, cover and stand in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until the mixture has doubled.
  2. Stir in 150 grams melted butter, two lightly beaten eggs, the finely grated zest of one orange, two teaspoons of aniseed (or two teaspoons mahlepi and half a teaspoon of masticha), half a teaspoon of salt and a further one-third cup of caster sugar, then gradually stir in a further three cups sifted plain flour to form a dough.
  3. Gently knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (about one-and-a-half hours).
  4. Turn out and knead for one to two minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into three even pieces and roll each piece into a 40 centimetre long cylinder, plait the lengths together, then shape into a wreath, pinching the ends to join.
  6. Place on a lined baking tray.
  7. Press three red eggs firmly into the wreath. Don't add these eggs if you're making this outside of Easter.
  8. Stand in a warm place until well risen (about 45 minutes).
  9. Brush the bread with a combined egg yolk and two tablespoons milk, then bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Reduce the heat to 180C (160C fan-forced) and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

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