Tsoureki is a warm, delightful egg bread that celebrates Easter in Greek homes, the red egg symbolizing a drop of the blood of Christ and the bread, the communion of God and Man. Nevertheless, a simply delicious bread.
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- 1/4 Cup milk; lukewarm (110-115 deg)
- 2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 8 Tablespoons butter, unsalted; cut into small bits
- 1 Tablespoon butter; softened
- 1 teaspoon lemon peel; finely grated
- 1 egg; hard boiled, in the shell, dyed red with food coloring
- 1 egg yolk; lightly beaten
- In a small, shallow bowl, sprinkle the yeast and the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar over the lukewarm milk. Let it stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm, draft free place (such as an unlighted oven) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture doubles in volume.
- Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, the remaining 1/4 Cup of sugar, and the salt in a deep mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the yeast and the 2 eggs. Gently stir the center ingredients together with a large spoon, then gradually incorporate the flour and continue beating until all the ingredients are well combined. beat in the 8 Tablespoons of butter and lemon peel, add up to 1 Cup more flour, beating it n a few Tablespoons at a time and using as much as necessary to from a dough that can be gathered into a soft and still somewhat sticky ball. (When the dough becomes difficult to stir easily, work in the flour with your fingers.)
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead it by pressing it down, pushing it forward several times with the heel of your hand, and folding it back on itself. Repeat for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. sprinkle the dough with a little extra flour from time to time to prevent it from sticking to the board.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large, lightly buttered bowl. Dust the top with a little flour, drape with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft free place for about 1 hour until the dough doubles in bulk.
- With a pastry brush, coat a baking sheet with the Tablespoon of softened butter. Punch the dough down with a single blow of your fist, then transfer it to a lightly floured surface. To shape the dough into a snail like loaf, roll it into a thick rope about 2 inches in diameter and 24 inches long. Starting at one end, loop the rope into a circle about 6 inches in diameter, and then into ever smaller concentric circles. Carefully transfer the loaf to the baking sheet and let it rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Press the dyed egg gently into the center and brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg yolk. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crusty. Cool completely on a cake rack before serving.
Yield: 1 6" round loaf
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