Tsoureki is a traditional sweet bread we make in Greece during Xmas and Easter. It is a cousin of challah. It definitely is braided, which is something common. But we put milk instead of water and knead it with butter. A major difference is that we add some spices, which are traditionally orange zest, ground kardamon seeds and ground Mahleb seeds (in some parts of Greece they use ground resin from Mastic trees instead which is a completely different aroma).
360g Sugar 1Tbsp Orange zest 4g Ground Kardamon seeds 4g Ground Mahleb seeds 1tsp Salt 1Tbsp oil (Sunflower or other “light” not too aromatic oil, definitely NOT olive) 250ml Milk 4 Eggs 1Kg Flour (Prefer a strong flour with high gluten content) 200g Butter 100g Fresh yeast (or the analog in dry yeast) 1 Egg yolk to brush
- Mix sugar, orange zest, spices, salt and oil in a mixing bowl.
- Heat the milk to lukewarm.
- Get some of the milk and dissolve the yeast.
- Bring the rest of the milk to simmer and then add it to your Sugar mix and stir them together. This should warm up all these ingredients.
- Add the dissolved yeast.
- Add the eggs and continue stirring. You should have a slurry by that time.
- Mix in the flour gradually. This will get you to a very wet very sticky dough.
- Melt your butter and start adding it gradually to your dough, while kneading-folding. At some point the dough will absorb all the butter and stop sticking to your hands or mixing bowl. Do 3-4 more folds after that. Don’t expect your dough to be too firm. It’s fine.
- Cover the dough and let it sit for 2-3 hours or until it is doubled in volume. Ideally leave it overnight.
- Form the dough into braided loaves. Brush them with egg yolk and let them rest for an hour or so. We usually put some almonds as decoration before baking (Blanch the almonds to get rid of their skin if you do that, to make them look nice). Especially for Easter some decorate them with Easter eggs.
- Bake them at 170-180 C for about 40 minutes.
You can see pictures here