Slightly sweet Choereg/Chorek Armenian Easter bread made with goodness of sourdough and flavored with Mahaleb. Tangzhong makes it more soft buttery goes well with cup of coffee.
What is Choereg/Chorek?
This Armenian Easter bread usually made with yeast, it is rich in butter, egg, and sweet flavored with mahalab, a type of spice made from cherry pit seeds, which gives it a unique flavor and scent to the bread.
Mahalab or Mahalepi is an aromatic spice from the seeds of cherry, Prunus mahaleb (the Mahaleb or St Lucie cherry).
The cherry stones cracked open to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction.
The seed kernel ground to a powder before use.
I found the spice in my neighborhood Middle Eastern market, but it’s readily available online.
Mahaleb gives unique flavor and taste to the baked products used in bread, pies, pastries etc.
It is a spice used in the Middle Eastern cuisine.
Choereg is usually served during the Easter a an indulgence as an after winter and Lent. However, Armenians eat it year-round as well.
Other Easter bread that uses Mahaleb are Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread ) Paskalya Coregi (Turkey)
How to Make this Sourdough Choreg/Chorek?
You need following ingredients to make this bread.
All-purpose flour: Unbleached all-purpose flour will be good. Since this is traditional bread try not to add any whole grain flours.
Sourdough starter: I used 100% hydration white flour starter. You can use stiff starter to speedup the time.
Eggs: Eggs add structure, color, and flavor along with acting as leavening agent in the baked goods.
Butter: Since butter locks the moisture inside the while baking, as it makes the finished treats soft and flavorful.
Sugar: This is slightly sweet bread, you need to use granulated sugar in the recipe.
Salt: Not only control the fermentation but also brings out flavor in sweet bread
Milk : Milk used in both dough as well as for making Tangzhong.
Vanilla extract: It also adds extra scent to the dough.
Mahalab: Is the powdered cheery seeds, gives unique taste and flavor to this bread.
Sesame seeds and nigella seeds: For garnishing the bread. This gives not only crunch while biting the bread but also gives elegant appearance.
See recipe card for quantities.
Instructions to make Sourdough Chorek
First you need to active sourdough starter and Tangzhong.
In a bowl of Kitchen Aid stand mixer add everything except seeds and mix well.
To this gradually add flour and make it into a soft supple dough and set aside for 8 hours or overnight for fermentation using proofer or at room temperature if your room is warm.
Once the dough doubles in volume divide it into 3 equal pieces and then divide each piece into 3 equal pieces and braid.
If you are going for twist, make the single piece into a long rope and twist them to form twist.
If you want a coil then divide the dough pieces into two pieces and then roll them into rope and coil them to form a coil.
Rest aside for second proof while the oven is preheating. Once the dough is slightly puffed up.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle white sesame seeds and nigella seeds on the top and bake.
Substitutions for making Choereg
Instead of butter alone you can use mixture butter and oil for Choereg.
You can use ground Chinese almonds, dried apricot kernels, ground fennel seeds or cardamom as substitute for mahlab. You can also make a powder one 2-inch stick of cinnamon with three whole cloves and a bay leaf
Variations of Choereg
If you want, you can add nigella seeds in the dough instead of adding it to toppings.
How to Serve
Choereg is usually served as breakfast or as a snack with cup of coffee or tea.
Make sourdough starter in the morning : 8:00 AM
Make dough with all ingredients : 1.00 PM
Set aside for bulk fermentation : 9.00 PM
Shape the dough into braid : 9.30 PM
Bake at 10.00 PM
Enjoy in the morning.
If you are using yeast or sourdough discard your fermentation time will be 2-3 hours total.
Sourdough Choereg/ Chorek -Armenian Easter Bread
- Sourdough Starter
- 1 tablespoon / 15g sourdough stater
- ¼ cup /50g all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup / 50g water
- For Tangzhong
- 3 ¼ teaspoon 25g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cup/ 125g milk
- 350 g all purpose flour
- ½ cup cup/ 100g sourdough starter
- ⅓ cup / 75g sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon / 6g Mahaleb
- 1 teaspoon / 6g salt
- 1 teaspoon / 3g vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoon /83 g butter cold butter sliced thin pieces
- 2 tablespoon / 30g milk
- Decorations and Eggwash:
- 1 whole egg
- Sesame seeds and Nigella seeds
- First make Sourdough Starter
- In a bowl add sourdough starter, flour and water and mix well and set aside for 5 hours or until it doubles in volume.
- Make Tangzhong
- In a medium saucepan add flour, milk, and heat until it thickens and reaches around 65C /150 F .
- In a kitchen-aid bowl add sourdough starter, milk, tangzhong, salt, sugar, eggs, Vanilla extract and Mahaleb/ Mahalepi and mix well
- Gradually add all purpose flour and mix well. To this add butter pieces few at a time and incorporate well into the dough.
- Set aside dough for 8 hours or until dough double in volume. (Make sure to keep the dough in a proofer as it as good amount of sugar)
- Next morning divide the dough ( about 805g) into 3 pieces of 267g .
- On a large clean work surface, shape the dough into desired shapes as follows.
Shaping of Choereg
- For braid shape: Cut off ⅓ length of dough and set aside. Roll out rest of the piece of dough between your hands and the work surface until you have a ½-to-¾-inch thick rope. Then make rope with ⅓ length of the dough . Then attach it to the center of the longer piece by pressing the pieces together. Very loosely braid the ropes together (the braid will proof and get bigger later, so do not braid tightly). Press the ends together to “seal” the braid.
- For snail/spiral shape: Divide 1 piece of dough into two equal pieces . Roll out a piece of dough between your hands and the work surface until you have a ½-to- ¾-inch thick rope. Gently and loosely wrap the dough around itself starting from the center and moving outward. Tuck the end under the dough and gently press to seal it closed.
- For Twist : Roll the 3rd piece of dough into long rope and twist them from the middle and finally tuck in at the ends. Make sure to keep opening in the middle.
- Place assembled Choereg onto parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheets (leaving adequate space between the Choereg as they will rise and expand further during baking).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make egg wash with one egg and 1 tablespoon of water and brush all the Choereg (including the sides) with the egg wash mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and Nigella seeds
- Bake Choereg for 28 to 32 minutes until golden brown (baking time will be dependent on the size of your Choereg and the shapes you have made), rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through to ensure even baking.
Refresh previously frozen Choereg for 30 minutes in the oven before serving.
This is Swathi ( Dr. Ambujom Saraswathy Ph.D) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen who loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. Whenever possible I try to to give an Indian touch to several of the world cuisine, and has weakness for freshly baked bread. All the recipes you see here are created by me and approved after taste-test by my family.