Delicious Traditional Greek Easter bread Tsoureki with spices Mahlepi and Mastic and red dyed eggs
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.
Here comes the bread
Flour, sugar , yeast, salt
Melted butter, milk,
Soft supple dough
Knead well set aside in a greased bowl for fermentation.
After 2 hours
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces
Roll into 3 equal sized rope
braid rope like this and set aside for 30 minutes
Tuck the ends like this
After 30 minutes do the egg wash and sprinkle seasme seeds and almonds
Bake it in 350F for 20 minutes and place one colored egg.
Continue to bake for another 10 minutes until it become golden brown in color.
Are you looking to buy flours from Bob’s Red Mill here is the coupon
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Tsoureki / Lampropsomo /Greek Easter bread
- 300 g/ 2 ¼ cup All purpose flour I used Bob’s Red mill organic all purpose flour
- 50 g/ ¼ cup butter
- 1/3 cup+ 1 tablespoon Milk
- 50 g/ ¼ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 7 g/2 ¼ teaspoon yeast I used SAF Gold
- 2 g/ ½ teaspoon Salt
- 5 tears of mastic
- 1/4 teaspoon Mahlepi
- 1 hard boiled red dyed eggs How to make from here
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon halved almonds
- In a kitchen aid stand mixer bowl, add flour, salt, sugar, yeast, mastic( which ground into powder with ½ teaspoon sugar) and Mahelpi .
- In microwave safe bowl heat butter and milk until butter melts, about 30 seconds. Set aside and when it is luke warm add to flour mixture.
- In another bowl slightly beats eggs and add egg to flour mixture keeping just 1 tablespoon of egg aside for egg wash.
- Mix everything until you get soft but supple dough about 7 minutes in medium high speed.
- Transfer the dough into lightly greased bowl and set aside for doubling for about 2 hours.
- After one hour of proofing fold and stretch the dough set aside for another hour . Make sure to do this step it is really important.
- Once the dough is doubled in volume, transfer to lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal pieces about (184g)
- Each piece of dough is rolling it into 17 inch ropes. You get 3 ropes.
- Join the ropes at one end and do 3 strand braids like this.
- When you reach the both tips first join them together and tuck it inside so that you can get perfect sides on both ends.
- Sett aside for double for about 30 minutes or until dough springs back when you poke it in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper lightly greased with oil.
- When the braid is proofing preheat oven to 350F/ 177C
- When you are ready to bake, make an egg wash with 1 tablespoon water and reserved egg earlier.
- Brush egg wash generously to the braid. And sprinkle sesame seeds and almond halves throughout the braid.
- Bake it in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, open the oven and place the red dyed eggs in the center and rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes or until it gets golden brown in color or register 185 F inside.
- Enjoy as much you want.
This is Swathi ( Ambujom Saraswathy) 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.