Traditional Greek Tsoureki (Easter Bread)

Tsoureki is a traditional Greek sweet bread that is often served at Easter time. It is made with a sweet butter, a hint of orange rind, slivered almonds and a few hard-boiled eggs for decoration. This recipe is sure to become a favorite at any special gathering. It is simple to make, and the results are always impressive. Turn your kitchen into a Greek bakery and surprise your family and friends with a wonderful Tsoureki!

Ingredients used:

For 2 people

  • 0.5 cup - Sweet butter
  • 0.5 cup - Granulated sugar
  • 2 - Eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon - Grated orange rind
  • 1 - Butter (melted)
  • 0.25 cup - Slivered almonds
  • 1 cup - Milk
  • 1 package - Active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon - Salt
  • 5 tablespoons - Orange juice
  • 5.5 cups - Sifted flour
  • 1 - Red-dyed hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons - Granulated sugar

Recipe steps:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the milk and butter over medium heat and scald. Stir until the butter melts, then pour into a mixing bowl.
  • When the mixture is lukewarm, sprinkle in the yeast and, with fingers or a heavy spoon, gradually stir in the 1/2 cup of sugar until it dissolves. Add the salt, eggs, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, and the orange rind, stirring continuously.
  • Gradually add half of the flour until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue adding flour gradually by hand; the dough should be sticky but not stiff.
  • Flour your fingers lightly and knead for 15 minutes. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl, brush the dough with melted butter, cover, and set in a warm area to rise until it doubles in bulk (approximately 2 to 3 hours).
  • Punch the dough down and divide into 2 parts. Divide each half into 3 parts and roll each into a long rope shape, around 10 inches by 2 inches. Braid the three ropes together; pinch to seal the ends if leaving long, or join together to form a long round loaf.
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough to make a second tsoureki. Place in large baking pans or on a cookie sheet, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk (approximately 1 1/2 hours).
  • Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by mixing the remaining orange juice, remaining sugar, and the almonds in a small bowl.
  • Bake the tsourekia in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and with a pastry brush glaze the tops and sides of loaves. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the color is a rich and shiny chestnut.

When making the Tsoureki, you can also add hard-boiled eggs that have been dyed red. If you choose to do this, make sure you tuck them into the center of each loaf when shaping them, before letting them rise and baking them. In some provinces, the Tsoureki is formed with a large braid and a smaller one over it, making a much larger loaf that requires a longer baking time. This traditional Greek Easter bread is sure to be a hit at any special gathering, and will be a delicious and memorable addition to your holiday celebration!