Lambriatika or Paschalina Koulourakia are Greek Easter butter cookies, which are traditionally made only during Easter and have a distinct flavour as baking ammonia is used as the leavening agent. Baking ammonia, or ammonium bicarbonate, was used before the advent of baking soda and baking powder. It is a chemical leavening agent originally made from the horns of deer. The chemical formula is NH4HCO3. When heated, baking ammonia breaks down into ammonia (NH3), water and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide makes cakes and cookies rise, the same way that carbon dioxide given off by other chemical leaveners does.
I used to make the traditional recipe for many years but each year I tweaked it a bit and ended up with this recipe. Some times I add orange or lemon zest and some orange juice with more flour.
As we usually left for Sparta each year, I have never posted the new changes to the recipe before, so I am posting both and you can decide, which one you like best.
The traditional recipe makes over a hundred cookies: 6 eggs are lightly beaten with 5 vanillins (or a tsp of vanilla essence). In another bowl 400 grams sugar and 320 grams butter are whisked until creamy. The eggs are then incorporated. 2 tsp baking ammonia are dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm milk and added and finally 1500 grams sifted flour and 1 tsp baking powder are added to make the dough. They are brushed with an egg yolk dissolved with a tablespoon milk or water and baked until golden.
They are formed into different shapes. One shape is to make long cords (about 15 – 20 cm), fold the cord in the middle and twist it twice. Another is to twist the two ends into opposite spirals shaping it into a capital S or just create various circles.
Lambriatika Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies), recipe by Ivy
Preparation time: 1 hour
Baking time: 40 minutes
Makes: 26 – 30 (depending on the size)
540 grams(<4 cups) all purpose or cake flour
150 grams butter, at room temperature
150 grams sugar
11/2 tsp (8 grams) baking ammonia
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs (about 65 grams each) (reserve less than half of 1 egg white for washing)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp cane sugar
Sift flour and mix in salt and baking ammonia.
Attach the K paddle to your stand mixer or use an electric hand mixer and cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg, one at a time, beating in well before adding the next. Add milk, vanilla and blossom water and mix.
Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing in well before adding more until it is smooth but not sticky on the hands.
Put it is on your working surface and taking small pieces of dough form long cords about the thickness of a woman’s pinky and shape them as you like.
Line your baking tin with parchment paper and place them a little spaced apart as they will rise.
Beat the egg white with a fork and brush the cookies. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each one.
Preheat oven to 180o C / 350o F and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes depending on your oven or until lightly browned.
Leave to cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.