Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
This tsoureki recipe will give you the delicious soft bread associated with Greek Easter celebrations.
Makes: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • 450 g (16 oz) white bread flour
  • 175 g (6 fl oz) lukewarm milk
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Grated zest from an orange
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
For the egg decoration
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp water
  • ¼ tsp red gel food colouring
  • 1 tsp olive oil
For the glaze
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp water
To decorate
  • 20 g (1 oz) flaked almonds cut into slithers
Instructions
Prepare the decorative eggs
  1. Mix the vinegar, water and food colouring in a small bowl.
  2. Boil the eggs for 10 minutes and place on a wire rack to dry.
  3. Once dry and while the eggs are still hot, dip them in the colouring solution. Return to the wire rack to cool completely.
  4. When the eggs are cool pour the olive oil onto a piece of kitchen paper and wipe the eggs carefully all over.
Prepare the dough
  1. Add the yeast and the sugar to the milk, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour.
  3. Add the spices, caraway seeds, orange zest and salt. Mix well.
  4. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and the yeast/milk/sugar mixture. Mix well to a slightly sticky dough.
  5. Turn the dough out and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  6. Place in a lightly-greased bowl, cover and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Turn the dough out, knock it back and knead for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  9. Turn the dough out, knock it back and split the dough into 3 equal pieces.
  10. Roll each piece out to 40-45 cm (15-18"). Braid the three lengths of dough.
  11. Transfer the loaf to a lightly-greased baking tray and push in the eggs along its length.
  12. Place in a large plastic bag and leave in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
  13. Brush the loaf with the glaze and sprinkle with the almond slithers.
  14. Bake at 170°C/340°F fan oven, 190°C/380°F conventional oven for 30-35 minutes.
  15. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.
Notes
Traditional Tsoureki is spiced with mahlab, also known as mahlepi. It is the ground stones from wild cherries. If you can get this spice and it is not outrageously expensive use 2 tsp instead of the allspice, cinnamon and caraway seeds.

The eggs can be eaten just like any hard boiled egg. They are optional, of course, but Tsoureki just isn't Tsoureki without the eggs! Use a gel food colouring rather than a liquid food colouring; the latter tends to turn brown when heated. It also helps to wear a kitchen glove when dipping the eggs to prevent your own hand becoming red.