Easter Bread Recipes from Razzle Dazzle Recipes
Greek Easter Bread
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Tsoureki of Velventos (Greek Easter Bread)

Makes three 1-pound loaves

To make the sponge:

2 tablespoons dried yeast

1 cup milk

9 cups flour, divided use

1 dash salt

2 cups sugar, divided use

6 large eggs

1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/2 teaspoons mahlepi spice, optional

Glaze: 1 whole egg, beaten

Preliminaries: Heat oven to 350 F. while divided/braided loaves are rising (see step below).

Proof the yeast: Dissolve yeast in the milk. Mix in 1/2 cup flour, dash of salt and 1 tablespoon sugar; cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place. Yeast mixture will rise slightly.

Prepare the dough: While yeast mixture is rising, combine 6 eggs with remaining sugar, melted (and cooled) butter, orange juice and mahlepi (optional) in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and slowly add the remaining flour, mixing as much as you can with a wooden spoon and then using your hands to incorporate as much flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky.

Knead, raise the dough: Working on a lightly floured board, knead dough until smooth and elastic. This could take up to 15 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let proof or rise until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 3 to 4 hours.

Divide and/or braid dough: When doubled, punch down and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Divide dough in three sections (about 1 pound each) and place each in greased loaf pans, or divide each section of dough into three and braid. Cover with a piece of buttered plastic wrap and set aside to double in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Glaze, bake the loaves: Beat the whole egg to make an egg wash. Brush the tops of the risen dough. Place on middle rack of pre heated oven and let bake 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown. To check for doneness, turn the loaf out of the pan and tap, listening for hollow sound. You can also insert an instant-read thermometer into the bottom and watch for a 210 F. internal temperature. Return to oven for additional five-minute intervals if necessary.

Cook's notes: Recipe requires a lengthy rising, as well as a second rising (see below). Mahlepi (or mahaleb) is a Persian spice. The seeds are harvested from a small tree similar to a flowering cherry. It's typically available at Greek food stores.


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