Easter is right around the corner, and while it is celebrated in different ways by many, one common thread is to involve colorful eggs, either in hunts or baskets or bread.
Tsoureki is the traditional bread of Easter in Greece and many other Christian countries. The dough is enriched and then twisted around brightly dyed eggs. The bread is often braided with three strands to represent the holy trinity, formed into a circle as a reference to life and the eggs are dyed red as a symbol of Christ’s blood. The bread is sweet, flavored with orange zest and a traditional Middle Eastern spice called Mahlepi, which is made from ground cherry pits (the spice can be found in Middle Eastern or Greek markets). If you don’t have Mahlepi, you can make the dough with ground Anise seed or even Cardamom. We’ve made them individual-sized here, with light pink eggs, but you could make them any color you would like (for a large loaf, we have a recipe here).
You will have more dough than needed here. You could make more individual rings, or save it for another application.
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon Red Star Platinum, Active Dry, or Quick-Rise yeast (1 packet)
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Mahlepi or ground anise seed
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 8 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 eggs (you can use uncooked eggs, since they will cook while the bread is baking. The eggs are for decoration and not really meant to be eaten, so it’s a nice way to save time.)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 teaspoons vinegar