Authentic Greek Easter bread recipe needed

robinwaban

A sweet little Greek lady I work with has asked me to make her a GreekEaster bread. I made one for her last year but I wasn't impressed with it. The one I'm looking for is flavored with mahlepi and mastike.? Spelling. I have to grind those spices. I've since gotten a 7 cup KA mixer, so I won't kill myself kneading it. So, if anyone out there has a good recipe I would really appreciate it if you would let me have yours.

badge posted by: robinwaban on March 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm in General discussions
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reply by: robinwaban on March 28, 2012 at 11:29 am
robinwaban

Where are all my buddies? No one has a recipe for me? Aw...

reply by: swirth on March 28, 2012 at 11:39 am
swirth

Did you not see the thread pammyowl started a day or so before you started this one? Easter Bread, maybe is the title...she was looking for an Italian one and I gave her the link to KathyD's Portugese old family recipe she has always made...I think they're all pretty much the same, LOL!

It has probably dropped off of page two by now.

reply by: Mrs Cindy on March 28, 2012 at 11:51 am
Mrs Cindy

What recipe did you use last year? The one you weren't impressed with. Maybe that would give us some place to start. There are plenty of recipes if you google it, but it would help to have a starting point.

~Cindy

reply by: GinaG on March 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm
GinaG

I was hoping you'd hear from someone of Greek heritage to offer their family recipe. I agree with Cindy, that if we don't hear from anyone, maybe we can help you figure out what you didn't like and tweak the recipe you already have.

reply by: robinwaban on March 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm
robinwaban

It's the flavorings I'm concerned about which gives it an authentic taste. The following is the recipe I used last year. I think it came out too dense and grinding mastica was like grinding a piece of 10 year old gum. I had to sift the mahlepi ( I don't even know what these spice are in English and I am NOT Greek) after I ground it. Other recipes call for cinnamon and nutmeg. Eww.. That would be ok if it were a cinnamon bread. This bread is similar in texture to a challah or close to a brioche. I am going to make this recipe again. I'll let you know. Thanks for your responses. I do appreciate them.
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon ground mahlepi (optional)
1/4 teaspoon pounded mastic crystals (optional)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from about 1 orange)
1 red-dyed hard-boiled egg (optional)
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

reply by: Mrs Cindy on March 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Mrs Cindy

Robin, the only other recipe I have found that might work, has finely chopped almonds in the recipe. Other than that, it is basically the same recipe, only much larger as it makes six loaves.

My question is this. Why can't you make a good brioche or challah and just add the orange zest, mahlepi (which I think is like anise seed) and masticha? You would get the lighter, richer, loaf that you want, but with the spices/flavorings you need.

Just a thought.

~Cindy

reply by: GinaG on March 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm
GinaG

Robin,

You have some options here. Hopefully, BakerIrene will poke her head in, because she can advise you what kind of bread base to use to make a good Tsoureki. If she doesn't get to you in time, I have an idea which might work:

You already do have a sure thing, which is your challah bread, right? So why not consider using your sure-thing and enhancing it with traditional Greek spices? Did your Greek lady-friend at work offer a family recipe you can make for her?

I'm seeing recipes that are twice the amount of yours with half the salt, so that may be why your loaf came out dense. Yeast doesn't like salt.

http://greekfood.about.com/od/greeklenteaster/r/Greek-Easter-Bread-Tsour...

This recipe has rave reviews:

http://greek.food.com/recipe/tsoureki-greek-easter-sweet-bread-87775/review

Other than being dense, did you like the bread? Is it worth a second go with less salt?

reply by: Mike Nolan on March 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm
Mike Nolan

Mastic is a type of tree sap, said to have a pine-like aroma, mahleb is derived from the kernel of the St. Lucie cherry pit, and is reminiscent of almonds, with a hint of cherry. It is the primary spice in simit, a roll often sold as street food in Turkey.

I haven't spotted an Easter Bread recipe that uses both spices other than the one posted upthread, though this one looks interesting:

http://www.greekshops.com/newsletters_archive/April_2006/

There's an Easter Bread recipe in BBA that also uses colored eggs, but I've never made it, and it does not use either spice.

I may make a small Challah wreath for Easter this year. If I do and it looks good, I'll post pictures.

reply by: GinaG on March 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm
GinaG

This Greek Easter Bread really, really intrigues me! I love the use of those ancient spices and I bet it's just sublime.

Dyed eggs in the bread, particularly red ones, symbolize so many different things in Christianity, but the common thread you'll find among all Easter breads is that they're made with ingredients denied during a Lenten Fast, so many are sweet and chock full of dairy. There are also a great many savory pies and breads full of meats and cheeses.

reply by: Mrs Cindy on March 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm
Mrs Cindy

Mike, one of the recipes I found had both spices as optional. I don't know if a 'real' Greek Easter Bread has both or either spice, but the spices are the only thing that sets it apart from a good challah recipe.

~Cindy

reply by: robinwaban on March 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm
robinwaban

Thanks everyone. I knew you'd all come through. Now I have too many options. Thanks, Mike, for explaining what the spices are.

reply by: swirth on March 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm
swirth

Dug this up from the oldBC stuff I had saved:
--------------------------
Panagiota Pappas' Lambropsomo (Greek Easter Bread) BakingCircle Member Recipe

Submitted by: murray
Last Updated: 4/11/2003

• Scarlet eggs are baked into this light bread - a traditional accompaniment to lamb at the Greek Easter feast.

• 5&1/2 - 6 cups flour
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 5 hard-cooked eggs, dyed red (leave them in the red dye long after you think they are "red" as the baking seems to pale the color quite a bit)
• 2 packages of active dry yeast
• 2 cups lukewarm butter
• 1/4 cup melted butter
• 1/2 teaspoon anise seed (star anise)
• sesame seeds
• egg glaze

• In a mixer, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add water and butter. Mix well. Add anise, lemon peel, and eggs. Beat 5 minutes with electric mixer. Gradually add remaining flour. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elacstic. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with kitchen towel and set in warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Turn onto lightly floured board; knead lightly. cut off piece of dough "the size of an orange" for decoration. Shape large piece of dough into a smooth, round loaf about 10 inches in diameter and place on greased baking sheet. Gently lay 1 dyed egg in center (do not press in) and the remaining 4 around the edge, forming tips of a cross. Roll small piece of dough into 10 pencil thin strips 6 inches long. Place 2 strips crisscross over each egg, pressing ends slightly into bread to secure the eggs. cover and let rise until doubled in size. Brush with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 325 for 25-30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on wire rack.
----------------------------------

reply by: Mike Nolan on March 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm
Mike Nolan

What I've always wondered about is how the colored eggs handle being baked, and how you eat the bread without getting egg shell fragments in it.

reply by: swirth on March 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm
swirth

I put a copied oldBC post from KathyD in the thread pammyowl started about Easter Egg Braid...she tells how her Portugese family did it, raw eggs colored, baked right in the bread and she makes no mention of egg shell fragments.

reply by: Mike Nolan on March 28, 2012 at 9:06 pm
Mike Nolan

I suspect the baking hardens the shell. I seem to recall a post on the old BC describing kids playing 'marbles' with Easter eggs. (When the egg cracks open, you lose.) The kids who had the eggs from Easter Egg bread had a big advantage.

reply by: GinaG on March 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm
GinaG

Wanna play?

My money is on the baked eggs.

The eggs baked right into the dough have symbolic meaning and aren't really there to be munched on like an Easter egg. Kids will eat them because it's fun, not because it tastes good: It will be an over-cooked egg. No one likes a tough, rubbery egg...Unless of course you're playing marbles with them!

There are ways to use a hard cooked egg to decorate breads without being wasteful.

The egg is not always in the shell, sometimes the egg is cracked onto the top of the bread half-way through baking. You make a small loop with a rope of dough from the bread, place it on top and have a "container" for the egg.

In savory applications, the egg is shelled, kept whole and added in the filling of a pie or tart full of meats, veggies and cheeses.The egg doesn't continue cooking and it's protected in a moisture-filled environment.

reply by: Kemling again on March 29, 2012 at 2:08 am
Kemling again

Robin Hi. I found a recipe for Greek Easter Bread in Beth Hensperger' "The Breadlover's Breadmachine Cookbook" on page 532/533. She uses a combination of cinnamon, allspice and cloves to give a hint of the more exotic flavor of ground mastic and mahlepi seeds. Also she uses a strong, dark honey. I don't know if I'm allowed to copy the recipe from her book. If that is allowed , I can copy it for you. Hope this is of some help.

reply by: robinwaban on March 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm
robinwaban

Thanks for the post. I have her book. I'll check it out!

reply by: robinwaban on March 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm
robinwaban

Thanks for the post. I have her book. I'll check it out!

reply by: GinaG on March 31, 2012 at 3:13 am
GinaG

I'm dying to hear which route yo take and how it turns out!

Keeping my fingers crossed for you...
Gina

reply by: GinaG on April 02, 2012 at 3:13 am
GinaG

Robin,

Not that you're having a recipe shortage, but I stumbled on something which may be of interest to you. Rather than buying the mahlab and trying to grind it up, it's available prepared in a jar.

This is one of my favorite sites for bread; everything I have ever made from her blog just comes out absolutely flawless.

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2011/04/21/tsoureki/

She too mentions sources calling the spices "optional" but she disagrees and says it is well worth using and why.

If nothing else, it's interesting information and a fun place for future reference.
~Gina

reply by: robinwaban on April 02, 2012 at 12:37 pm
robinwaban

Gina
You are too sweet. I'm hoping to make the bread on Wednesday. I have a small window of opportunity. Thank you for your interest and help!

reply by: teddybear958 on April 04, 2014 at 8:08 pm
teddybear958

Did you ever find a recipe for this bread? I just found this site. I know you posted a while ago, but if you're interested I have a family recipe my grandmother brought with her from the island of Chios, Greece. I use mastika only. I have the large pieces and grind it to a powder for making the bread.

Let me know if you're interested,
Teddy Scassera

reply by: robinwaban on April 04, 2014 at 10:45 pm
robinwaban

Thank you so much. I will be away during Easter, but would still like the recipe. I found the mastika already ground! It's a year old, so I hope it's still good.

reply by: robinwaban on April 04, 2014 at 10:45 pm
robinwaban

Thank you so much. I will be away during Easter, but would still like the recipe. I found the mastika already ground! It's a year old, so I hope it's still good.

reply by: frick on April 05, 2014 at 11:52 am
frick

Teddybear958, I hope you do post the recipe. It sounds so interesting. Robin would probably share some of her mastika with me. By the way, how do you grind yours? Even if I have to find it on my own, there is a large greek store within a block of a stupendous Greek cathedral. The store and it's restaurant are right in the center of the Greek community. Surely I could find it there.

reply by: Mrs Cindy on April 05, 2014 at 4:09 pm
Mrs Cindy

Teddybear958, I hope you are monitoring this thread and will post this recipe. As you can see, we have been waiting on a true Greek family recipe for the last two years.
.
Looking forward to seeing this recipe!
.
~Cindy