I love to celebrate the Festivals of the world with baking bread. Every Easter and Christmas I try to bake bread from one country. My connection with Greek food started with a Greek roommate when I was in Stockholm. She made delicious dinners every other weekend as most of the week and a weekend I am the one donning the cook’s apron. I tried Italian Easter bread, Greek Easter cookies so this time I decide to bake a Tsoureki/ Lampropsomo/ Greek Easter bread. I got a chance to try 5 LB Organic All-purpose flour from Bob’s Red Mill along with gluten free All-purpose flour and almond meal.
Tsoureki / lampropsomo bread is specialty of Cypriot cuisine, and is super rich brioche type bread with red dyed egg which symbolizes Christ’s resurrection. The red represents life, victory and the blood of Jesus Christ .This braided bread can be shaped either into a circle or into two large braids and sprinkled with nuts, usually slivered, blanched almonds. It is served with red Easter eggs that have been dyed to represent the blood of Christ.
This bread is traditionally made with seeds of Mediterranean wild cherries, called mahlepi/ Mahlab
and Mastic, the resin form Pistacia lentiscus, var. chia.
I collected those spices long ago to try recipes from Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. So I am happy to use it is my bread. In some recipe I found that they are using anise seeds too, I haven’t tried it in this bread may be next time. On Holy Saturday, Easter breads Tsoureki and red eggs are placed in baskets and then they are taken to church to be blessed. Some of them will be given as gift to godparents from children. In earlier times the newly married women also offered Easter bread to their parents in law.
Make sure to start your recipe with good quality flour like Bob’s mill’s Organic Unbleached White Flour which is freshly milled from Organic hard red wheat. Both the bran and the germ have been removed leaving the endosperm that is made into white flour. Best part is that is not enriched with any additives. Not only this organic unbleached white flour, they have excellent selection of various flours. As Bread baking enthusiast and a sourdough baker to go place to buy various flour is Bob’s Red Mill.
Tsoureki is really tricky bread. You need to know some tricks to make it prefect. I think this is what grandma and mom made it every in year in their kitchen to bring out best. I end up trying 4 times so for the last two weeks my breakfast bread is Tsoureki. They all taste great but losing their shape while baking, I researched for two days to get an answer, and finally got it. 1) Since it is high sweet bread, you need to bake it only at 350°F/177°C. Second you need to make sure the bread has enough gluten by folding and stretching every hour of first 2 hour proofing. Then once braided give at least 30 minutes or does a poke test, if you poke the braid it will springs back immediately. Finally don’t place dyed eggs (if using) on the bread dough before baking which you will see in every YouTube video and recipe instructions. You need to place it only after 20 minutes of baking if you place it earlier loosely then they will fall off while baking or if you stick it deeply, bread will lose its shape as they tend to extent on both sides. Make sure to make braid little loose giving some extra room for extension on both sides. A good tsoureki should be soft, moist and fluffy, yet stringy and chewy. Which is sweeter than a challah so leftover one will be great for bread pudding. I will try that too.
Are you looking to buy flours from Bob’s Red Mill here is the coupon
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