Ahhhh the easter bread...or tsoureki (τσουρἐκι) in greek. One of my favourite things to eat at Easter or any other time for that matter. Eat it by itself, with milk, warm, toasted or cold, dip it in your coffee, spread jam or chocolate on it, basically you can eat it any way you can imagine. It is just delicious! And although it is eaten as the name says during Easter, people in Greece eat it year round and of course there is one place that is known for making Easter bread. And the place is in Thessaloniki and the name is of course Terkenlis! The store has been in the centre of the city since its beginnings and it makes many different kind of sweets but it is known for the Easter bread. You can't miss the store, because if you are close by you are going to be dragged towards it by the incredible smell from the freshly made Easter bread. They sell it by the slice or whole and it comes plain, stuffed with chocolate, chestnut paste (my favourite), covered in white chocolate and many many other forms. This is not me advertising the store by the way...I don't have to...this is me just letting you know that if you ever pass by there don't miss the chance to try their Easter bread as it is truly one of the best.
Now coming to our Easter bread...It is made on Good Thursday and people eat it on Easter Sunday at midnight when the fasting stops. It is difficult to make, only because it needs a lot of knitting with your hands. If you do make it in small quantities I am sure you can use your good old mixer but rarely we here make small quantities, and since we don't have a large size mixer well...our hands do the work. The other thing is you need to be careful is keeping the temperature right. And what I mean by right is everything needs to be warm. Because you are working with yeast, everything needs to be warm so the dough rises and your Easter bread is a success!
Finally, in my opinion the other key ingredient to a delicious Easter bread is the spices that go in it. One is cardamon and the other is mahlep. Mahlep is a type of spice that comes from the seeds of a special type of cherry. You can find it online for sure so please try not to avoid adding it. Although both spices are added in very small quantities, their smell when the bread is baking is the one that travels and lures the people to the famous store I told you before :) Ahhh the smell! Delicious!
So follow the recipe and enjoy! Hard work but definitely worth it!
Kostas, Dia and Tony
The Easter bread
for more information on how to make the Easter bread please click here
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