Tsoureki is a traditional Greek Easter bread that combines the sweetness of a brioche-like dough with the fragrant taste of delicious aromatic spices.
This delicious festive bread is usually decorated with colored hard-boiled eggs and braided to make it look pretty. While baking, your whole house smells wonderful.
Yes, this tsoureki bread is soft, slightly sweet, and perfect for enjoying with friends and family during Easter.
Celebrate the Easter Holiday with Tsoureki
Greek Easter bread, also known as Tsoureki, braided tsourekia, Paschalina stourekia, or Lampropsomo, is a typical Greek specialty eaten yearly during Easter.
This bread is rich in aromatic flavor and has a soft, airy texture. It is usually braided and decorated with colorfully painted eggs, symbolizing new life and rebirth. The bread is brioche or Challah-like, but this buttery bread has a specific taste and aroma.
This Greek Easter bread is made from flour, eggs, sugar, spices, butter, and lemon. The golden brown color and unique taste make the bread a delicious treat. Not just during Easter brunch. This bread is also delicious with coffee or tea.
A Sweet & Aromatic Traditional Greek Easter Bread
Traditionally, Tsoureki is made of Mastic and Mahlab, which are not always easy to come by. Mastic is a resin that has an aromatic woody taste. It gives a sweet-bitter taste. I left out the mastic because it only adds a subtle flavor.
Mahlab is ground cherry stone and tastes between a cherry and an almond. Mahlab can also be replaced with cardamom or a combination of cinnamon and anise.
The bread is divided into three strands, representing the holy trinity. The eggs are dyed, usually red.
What do you need for Greek Tsoureki Recipe?
You require the following ingredients to prepare this Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread). You can find the correct amounts in the recipe card at the bottom of the blog:
- Yeast - This recipe uses ⅓ oz. (8 grams, two teaspoons) of instant yeast. If you prefer to use fresh yeast, you require ⅔ oz. (16 grams). If you use dry yeast, you require ⅓ oz. (8 grams). Note: with both fresh yeast and dry yeast, you must first dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk.
- Milk - Makes the bread creamy
- Eggs - Gives the bread a rich taste. You also give the dough an egg wash before baking so that it shines nicely and turns brown.
- Hard-boiled eggs - Boil the eggs until they are hard. With the method described in this blog, you cook perfect hard-boiled eggs (every time). If you want colored eggs, add a tablespoon of vinegar and 20 drops of coloring (food coloring) to the water before cooking the eggs. Then add the eggs and boil them hard.
- Anise / Cinnamon - Spices that warm and flavor this bread.
- Lemon - The juice and zest are used for citrus notes in the bread.
- Sugar - This is a sweet bread, and the sugar is used for sweetening.
- Flour - Use all-purpose flour.
- Butter - Unsalted butter, salt is added separately, at room temperature.
- Vanilla Extract - For a hint of vanilla flavor. If you can get it, use natural vanilla extract, which has a slightly deeper flavor than artificial vanilla extract. With this recipe, you can make a homemade vanilla extract (and, if you bake a lot, it is highly recommended because you can use this for a reasonable amount of time).
- Salt - To balance the taste of the bread.
How to prepare Greek Sweet Bread - Tsoureki Recipe
You can find a printable recipe with a detailed description at the bottom of this blog.
- Make a pre-dough by mixing the yeast, sugar, and lukewarm milk in a large bowl and leave for 5 minutes. When the yeast has started to work, add half of the flour to the yeast mixture and mix well. Set the bowl aside for half an hour, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place.
- Mix the eggs one by one with a hand mixer with a dough hook into the pre-dough and then the rest of the flour, butter cubes, salt, cinnamon powder, aniseed, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Keep mixing until you get a sticky dough. Place the dough in a bowl greased with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm environment for an hour.
- Press the air out of the dough and divide it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 15-inch (35 cm) roll. Braid these strands so that you get a nice loaf. Place the tsoureki dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 390 °F (200 °C) for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and divide the hard-boiled eggs on top of the dough. Brush the rest of the dough with a beaten egg. Put the bread back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 °F (180 °C). Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Delicious with: This loaf of tsoureki is tasty with an Easter Sunday brunch, served with a home-baked Dutch Easter stollen, a vegetable frittata, steam oven potted eggs with shrimp, and all kinds of other delicacies.
Tips, Substitutions, and Variations
- In the recipe, you add lukewarm milk and sugar to the yeast. This way, you can quickly and easily test whether the yeast is still active. If you do not see any bubbles after 5 minutes, start over using a new package of yeast.
- You add the sugar as "food" for the yeast because this must become sweet yeast bread.
- Use lukewarm milk and soft butter, and neither should be too cold. Yeast works best at 100 °F (37 °C), so the rising starts quickly.
- Do you find it difficult to determine whether your dough is ready? Assume it will take 10 minutes with the mixer and 15 minutes by hand anyway. You can feel whether the dough is prepared for the first rise; it then feels soft, supple, and elastic.
- Only add the salt after 5 minutes. Yeast absolutely cannot tolerate concentrated salt. So by adding it after five minutes, the yeast is already well distributed in the dough.
- The pre-dough is a bit runny. The bread dough sticks a bit. This is normal. Do not add extra flour, as the dough may become too firm.
- If you prefer traditional spices, add ½ teaspoon of mahlab and ¼ teaspoon of mastic, both finely ground. Skip the anise and cinnamon.
- Before braiding, flatten the ends a little so that they stick better.
- Also nice: Divide the dough into quarters and make smaller loaves.
The dough should have doubled in size.
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Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons yeast instant
- ½ cup whole milk lukewarm
- 2 eggs size L
- ½ stick butter unsalted, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground aniseed
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest grated
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Egg brush and Topping
- 5 hard-boiled eggs Optional: colored
- 1 egg size S
Ingredients you need per step are listed below the step in Italic
- Add half the flour, sugar, yeast and milk in a bowl and mix until well blended.3 cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons yeast, ½ cup whole milk
- Place a wet towel and plastic foil over the bowl and let it stand for half an hour in a warm place until air bubbles appear.
- Take the dough and add the eggs one at a time, while mixing. Add the second egg when the first egg is incorporated.2 eggs
- Mix in the flour.
- Cut the butter into cubes and add them, while continuing to mix, block for block.½ stick butter
- Finally you add the salt, cinnamon, anise, zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract.1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground aniseed, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Continue mixing until you get an elastic dough and place the dough in a greased bowl.
- Place a wet towel and a plastic wrap over the bowl and leave for an hour in a warm place to rise.
- Press the air out of the dough and divide it into three pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a roll of 14 inches (35 cm) in length.
- Braid these strands lose, so you get a braided bread.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the bread on the paper.
- Cover with a slightly wet towel and plastic wrap and let it rise for 60 minutes until the dough is doubled.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 390 °F (200 °C).
- Bake the bread for 10 minutes and take it out of the oven.
- Divide the eggs over the bread and press them into the dough.5 hard-boiled eggs
- Brush the bread with a beaten egg.1 egg
- Put the bread back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 355 °F (180 °C).
- Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
- This recipe uses ⅓ oz. (8 grams, two teaspoons) of instant yeast. If you prefer to use fresh yeast, you need ⅔ oz. (16 grams). If you use dry yeast, you need ⅓ oz. (8 grams). Note: with both fresh yeast and dry yeast, you must first dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk.
- In the recipe, you add lukewarm milk and sugar to the yeast. This way, you can quickly and easily test whether the yeast is still active. Start over and use a new yeast package if you do not see any bubbles after 5 minutes.
- You add the sugar as "food" for the yeast because this must become sweet bread.
- Use lukewarm milk and soft butter, and neither should be too cold. Yeast works best at 100 °F (37 °C).
- Only add the salt after 5 minutes. Yeast absolutely cannot tolerate concentrated salt. So by only adding it after five minutes, the yeast is already well distributed in the dough.
- The pre-dough is almost runny.
- The bread dough sticks. This is normal. Do not add extra flour, as the dough may become too firm.
- Before braiding, flatten the ends a little so that they stick better.
- If you prefer traditional spices, add ½ teaspoon of mahlab and ¼ teaspoon of mastic, both finely ground. Discard the cinnamon and anise seed.
When you use a conventional oven, set the temperature to 400 °F / 350 °F (200 °C / 180 °C). In a convection oven, 350 °F / 320 °F (180 °C /160 °C) is sufficient. 7. Storage
- You usually eat the Tsoureki the same day; otherwise, it is no longer fresh. If you want to store the bread, remove the hard-boiled eggs and store them separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- The bread stays fresh for up to 3 days in a special bread bin or wrapped in plastic foil.
- Do not keep bread in the refrigerator because it changes the structure of the bread due to moisture.
- You cannot freeze this bread because you bake it with eggs. So eat it as soon as possible.
- Leftover slices of bread are great for preparing French toast.