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Tsoureki (Orthodox Easter sweet bread)


  • 225 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 1/2 cup 2% milk, warm
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure anise extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon mastic
  • 3/4 teaspoon mehlapi
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons dry quick active yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 8-9 cups all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)

Egg wash:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons milk


  1. Oil well, three large baking sheets with vegetable oil, this ensures the bread doesn’t stick as well as gives it a dark golden bottom.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add butter and sugar and beat with a hand mixer until creamy, about two to three minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  3. Add in orange juice, zest, milk, anise, mastic, mehlapi and mix well.
  4. Add yeast in warm water and with a fork, gently stir in sugar. Let sit for a few minutes until foamy. Pour into wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in flour two cups at a time until dough begins to form. Dough should be sticky to the touch. You don’t want to over flour it or the bread will be dry.
  6. Dust a work surface with a little bit of flour and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and doesn't stick to your hands, about 12 minutes. Place in bowl, cover with a cloth, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk, about two hours. Punch down dough. Allow dough to rise for an additional hour.
  7. Divide into 15 even balls and roll each into strips 25-30 centimeters long, and about five centimeters in diameter.
  8. Lay three strips side by side, pinching together at one end, and make a tight braid. Pinch together at the other end to hold the loaf intact.
  9. Optional: At this point you can press a red-dyed egg between the strips of the braid or just leave the braided loaf plain.
  10. Repeat the procedure to make the rest of the loaves. Place on oiled baking sheets, eight to ten centimeters apart. Cover with cloth and let rise for another 20 minutes.
  11. Set oven rack in in the centre of the oven and preheat oven to 350 F.
  12. To make the wash, beat egg yolks with milk until well incorporated. Brush each bread well with egg yolks ensuring you get in between braid and sides. Sprinkle loaf along the centre with almonds or sesame seeds.
  13. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Poke top through with butter knife to check doneness, knife should come out clean. The bread should also sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove and cool on racks.  Repeat baking instructions until all loaves are baked.

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