I’ve been making tsourekia for years and when a recipe is tried and tested and good, I do not see any reason why changing it. However, things do happen in the kitchen.
Holy Thursday is the day we dye our Easter eggs and do most of the baking, so as usual, yesterday I dyed some eggs, made flaounes and made the usual recipe for tsourekia. However, I also like improvising, so while doing some stuff like kneading or waiting for the dough to rise, or while washing the dishes, my mind never stops thinking of things like «what if I do this.. or what if I add that». This is the part of cooking or baking I love most: to be able to have a white canvas on which you get inspiration from around you and create new things.
Since it was not supposed to be a recipe to post, I did not take any notes on quantities used. I prepared the chestnut puree early in the morning this time adding an equal amount of sugar and honey, vanilla essence and enough milk to cover the chestnuts. When I drained the leftover milk, it was about 1/4 of a cup, so instead of boiling water with anise seeds I decided to add it in the dough, together with more milk, as it would add extra flavour to the tsoureki.
While I was making flaounes, the idea of making a savory tsoureki popped into my head. This brioche type of bread has sugar in it but it is not very sweet. Although I have not tasted it yet as I am fasting, I have no doubt in my mind that sweet bread with savory cheese will be a great combination.
(Update Easter morning: simply amazing! You can’t even sense the sugar in the dough. It’s mostly the filling which sweetens it up and I realized that while eating the savory one and the one made with nutella filling, for breakfast).
To make the bread, you can follow the recipe for Tsourekia I have already posted in the past.
Instead of braiding the tsoureki the normal way, I followed a different method, which is perfect for adding filling and also the result is very impressive.
How to braid the bread:
When the dough rises, divide it into four equal parts.
Roll out each part about ½ cm thick, trying to give it a rectangular or oval shape around 25 x 30 cm.
Lightly score the dough as a guide leaving a margin of about 7 cm on each side and 3 – 4 cm on top and bottom.
With a sharp knife cut outside the scored area around 10 strips at a angle on both sides.
Place the filling in the center, leaving a gap, around 2 cm on each side.
Fold up the top, then fold the bottom and then fold the strips, alternating from each side until all the strips are folded over.
Line a baking tin with parchment paper and place each braid in it but not too close to each other. Cover with cling film and then cover with a napkin and it must rest to rise for about an hour, in which time it will rise again.
Brush with the egg-milk mixture on top.
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes or according to your oven, until golden brown. Smaller ones need less time.
I decorated the swwet tsoureki with blanched almonds and the savory tsoureki with sesame and poppy seeds.
My best wishes to all my Orthodox readers and friends for a Happy Easter and to the rest of you a wonderful weekend!
Other relevant recipes:
Tsourekia with chestnut filling
Tsourekia with Lemon marmalade
Yemarina Yewotet Dabo
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!