Tsoureki (Greek Easter sweet bread) with olive oil, orange and vanilla
An easy recipe for "tsoureki": sweet bread with olive oil, so much taste and full of flavor, so light and above all... healthy! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful brown semi-soft crust and an amazing stringy texture... Greek Easter bread (tsoureki) is traditionally served in Easter but it is also the perfect accompaniment to a morning coffee or to an afternoon tea break. If you haven't tried tsoureki before, then you are certainly missing out!
170gr. tepid water
3 sachet (8g/each) dried yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablesppoons flour for all purpose
140 gr. olive oil, preferably extra virgin
½ litre orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
180 gr. sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 kilo flour for all purpose or for bread
milk or 1 egg yolk for the glaze
almond slivers for sprinkling
Prepare the leaven: In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 4 tablespoons of flour. Mix the igredients together, cover the bowl and let stand for 20 minutes, until bubbly.
In another big bowl pour the olive oil, orange juice, add the sugar, aromatics (orange zest and vanilla extract) and the salt and mix. Finally add the leaven and the flour little by little kneading it in at the same time until you get a dough smoothy and shiny. Oil the dough slightly and place in a big bowl covered with a cloth set aside in a warm place and let the dough rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough, divide into 4 balls and form in shapes (braid, snail etc.). Place tsoureki loaves on a non-stick baking sheet, covered with a towel, and let them rise again for 20 minutes, until almost doubled in bulk. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 160oC – 180oC (depending on the oven). If you want your loaves to have a nice sheen brush them with milk or an egg yolk mixed with some milk. Sprinkle with the almond slivers and bake for about 30 minutes or until nice and golden.
With the quantities given you can make 4 medium size tsoureki loaves.
All the ingredients must be in room temperature!
In case that the dough is too sticky, you may add some more flour (not more than 100 gr.), until the dough is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands.
You may add some special spices that used by Greeks :1 teaspoon of Chios masticha powder (mastic) and 2 teaspoons of mahlepi (mahleb), finely ground, which can be found at all good ethnic grocery stores.