Traditional Greek Recipes: Tsoureki

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Forget any other tsoureki recipe you have seen and use Yiayia Vaso and Yiayia Kiki’s authentic ‘Yiayia style’ tsoureki recipe. These ladies have been neighbours and friends for over 36 years and through the decades have mastered traditional Greek Orthodox holiday sweets served at Easter and Christmas.  

This year, the women from the Sydney suburb of Canterbury are sharing their secret recipe and method with The Greek Herald.

At 6am, Yiayia Kiki walks from her home across the road and joins Yiayia Vaso for what will be a “long day but a good day,” they both tell me.

The pair will make dozens of tsourekia – enough for both of their families to share on Easter Sunday.

Tsoureki is a sweet bread with three plaits symbolising the Holy Trinity, and many Orthodox Christians enjoy a slice to break their fast on Easter Sunday.   

To make a batch of batch of 7-9 tsourekia, follow the recipe below. Check out our Instagram reel for a visual guide too @thegreekherald.

Ingredients:

  • 500 gram butter
  • 1kg plain flour (use as much as necessary)
  • Mastica
  • Mehelpi
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Water
  • Caster sugar
  • Yeast
  • 15 eggs
  • Oranges
  • 2 cups full cream milk
  • Canola oil
  • Boiled eggs, vanilla and almond flakes (to decorate)
  • 3-4 table spoons anthoero

Method:

  1. In a food processor, blitz together 2 spoons of flour and 2 spoons of mastica. Set aside.
  2. Prepare one cup of freshly squeeze orange juice and set aside.
  3. Place a pot on a stove and set heat to medium. Place 500 grams of unsalted butter, 1 cup of canola oil, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Boil and stir until fully combined.
  4. While the butter mixture is boiling, prepare yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, add 1 cup of water, 5 spoons of yeast and 1 spoon of sugar. Gently stir and set aside.
  5. In an electric mixture, crack 12 eggs and add 2 cups of sugar. Mix until light and fluffy.
  6. Once the butter mixture over the stove has fully dissolved and cooled down, pour into a new large bowl (this will be the finally bowl where all the ingredients are combined). Add the egg and sugar mixture and gently stir.
  7. Then add prepared mastica and flour mixture and 2 table spoons of mahelpi. Pour orange juice prepared from earlier. Pour 2 cups of milk. Add a pinch of salt and yeast mixture. Stir until combined.  
  8. Then add 2-3 ladle spoons of plain flour and used your hands to combine. Slowly add a ladle of plain flour every so often until desired texture (here both yiayiades told me there is no measure amount of flour, you have to feel the dough and keep on adding until you reach a soft but firm texture).
  9. Gently knead mixture until it becomes a soft and doughy texture. Make round ball and leave in bowl. Bless the dough by making a sign of the cross with the edge of your hand.
  10. Then, cover dough with a tea towel. With a blanket, wrap the bowl to keep it warm and set it aside for 3.5 hours.
  11. Gently cut a large palm full of tsoureki dough from the large dough mixture. Roll out with hands and make 3 long think even pieces.
  12. Join the 3 long piece at the top together and tightly plait together. You can leave it as is (straight) or join either side to make a circle. Transfer to baking tray and cover with tea towel. Leave to rest for 3.5 hours.
  13. Prepare glaze by cracking 1 egg and two egg yolks in a bowl. Add 3-4 table spoons of anthonero. Whisk together.
  14. Gently brush galze over tsoureki.
  15. Bake in oven on law heat (130 degrees celsius) until golden brown.

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