Did you know that there’s a whole day dedicated to baking? In case you are not aware of it.. World Baking Day is today! 19th of May. The main purpose of this campaign is to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and bake something that they have never baked before. The most interesting part is that there is a recipe for everyone. 100 recipes have been ranked from level 1 to 100, from level “I bake and cross my fingers” to “I bake, therefore I am.” The motto “Bake Brave” was so challenging that I couldn’t resist. I wanted to bake something fabulous and share it with other in-love-with-baking people. So I decided that the ‘World Baking Day’ is the ideal day to start my food blogging journey. Hmm what’s next? Pick a recipe!
The list is super delicious and attractive and I really struggled to find what I wanted to bake. I think I’ll try everything until the next World Baking Day! I decided to be really brave and go for level 97. The Greek Tsoureki by Vicky Koumantou (http://tastefull.gr/). Ok, you might say that since I am Greek I have probably baked a tsoureki before and this is not such a brave decision. But to be honest I don’t remember when was the last time that I tried to make a tsoureki. Tsoureki is a sweet bread and you can find it everywhere during the Easter period in Greece.
For as far I can remember, my Grandma used to make tsoureki for the whole family. I think she baked at least 10 loaves of tsoureki every Easter. I remember her kneading the dough and then shaping it into a perfect three-strand braid. When my Grandma passed away, it was my mum who continued baking tsoureki so I didn’t have the chance to experiment with this kind of dough. The saddest part is that no one got the recipe from my Grandma. She just had it in her mind! No recipe book, no recipe notes.. nothing. When I tried Vicky’s recipe I was extremely surprised and happy because this Tsoureki tastes almost the same as my Grandma’s. Additionally, it is super moist and of course delicious! So give it a try! Bake brave and make this traditional Greek Eastern Bread.
- 500g extra strong white bread flour, with high protein content (14% and more)
- 1 sachet dry yeast (8-9grams)
- 250ml whole milk
- 150grams caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or mahlep
- 1 teaspoon pounded mastich or lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 2 eggs at room temperature, lightley beaten
- 70grams butter
- 1 egg yolk, diluted with a little water for brushing
- Sift the flour, yeast and spices into a large bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan heat the butter, the sugar and the milk and stir until sugar dissolves. Make sure that the mixture’s temperature is no hotter than 40 C (104 F).
- Add the warm mixture and the eggs to the flour and then gently knead the dough for 5-8 minutes. The dough will be sticky but don’t add extra flour because the Tsoureki will become dry. Instead grease a spatula with olive oil and keep folding the dough until it stands firm.
- Then cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (2-3 hours).
- When the dough is ready, start shaping your Tsoureki. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and then each part into six even pieces. Roll into ropes, pinch all six pieces together and then braid the ropes according to the instruction in this video.
- Place the loaves on a lightly greased baking sheet and leave to rise until doubled in size.
- Heat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Brush the loaf all over with the egg wash and bake the Tsoureki for 15-18 minutes until it gets a golden brown colour.