Spelt Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

Food

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Tsoureki is a sweet bread eaten on Easter Sunday (after midnight mass on Easter Saturday to be precise) to break the Lenten fast and celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter. Traditionally, the ingredient list includes wheat flour, milk, sugar and butter, but this recipe swaps these for more wholesome ingredients, offering a healthier, wheat and dairy free alternative.

500 gm (4 cups) white spelt flour

21 gm (3 packets) dried yeast

Pinch of salt

125 ml (1/2 cup) almond milk, plus a few tbsp extra as needed

100 ml lukewarm water

2 eggs, lightly beaten, plus extra for the egg wash

2 tbsp honey

Finely grated rind of two oranges

1 tsp ground mahlepi (also known as mahlab)

1 tsp ground mastiha (also known as mastic)

75 gm coconut oil, softened but not melted

Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Combine flour, yeast and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, form a well in the centre and set aside. Add almond milk, eggs, honey, orange rind, mahlepi, mastiha and lukewarm water and knead until a soft dough forms (5-7 minutes). If the dough seems dry, add more almond milk one tablespoon at a time until the dough softens. Gradually add small spoonfuls of coconut oil, a little at a time, kneading until a smooth soft dough forms (3-5 minutes). Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).

Knock back dough and divide into 6 even pieces to make two loaves. Roll each piece into a long cylinder and plait 3 pieces together to form one loaf. Place loaves on oven trays lined with baking paper and set aside to prove slightly (20 minutes).

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Preheat oven to 180C. To make egg wash, beat one egg lightly with a tablespoon of almond milk. Brush loaves with egg wash, being careful not to apply to much pressure as this may cause the loaves to deflate. Sprinkle loaves with sesame seeds. Bake until golden and cooked through (25-30 minutes). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller

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Notes

Tsoureki is best eaten the day it’s made and served warm or at room temperature. It can be stored in plastic wrap but will harden if placed in the fridge. To refresh, warm slices of tsoureki briefly in a toaster, oven or microwave.

Two or three day old tsoureki makes for excellent French toast.

This recipe makes a less sweet, less fluffy and slightly more dense version of a classic tsoureki. If more sweetness is preferred, add another tablespoon or two of honey. 

Serve with any of the following:

Good quality butter

Your favourite jam (fig and quince jam is a perfect accompaniment)

Drizzled with honey

Coconut chocolate butter

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