March 19, 2008

GREEK EASTER BREAD/ TSOUREKI PASCHALINO

Susan from "wild yeast blog" is hosting this month's "Baking bread day #8" with a beautiful theme of "celebration breads". I am sending her a fragrant Greek Easter Bread/Tsoureki Paschalino to celebrate Easter. Thanks for hosting Susan!:)
Bread baking day event is started by Zorra, who is also celebrating her birthday this month.
"I wish you a very happy birthday Zorra, celebrate and have fun!!"


Easter in Orthodox Greek tradition:
According to author Gary Van Haas ;
"The solemnity of Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church ends with the commencement of Easter celebrations, where it glorifies the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Greek religion, every Sunday is dedicated to the Resurrection of the Lord, but one hundred days also are dedicated to Easter, 50 before its actual preparation, and another 50 after it in commemorating the glorification of the Lord. Easter is therefore considered, the "Feast of Feasts". On Holy Saturday, the ceremonies of whole week come to a close as people begin to break their fasts, savoring specially prepared dishes like 'margeiritsa' soup, made of lambs innards. The rest of the day is spent preparing for next day's big lamb feast at the Easter Sunday celebrations".

Although we personally do not have Easter celebration at home, I thought I would bake Greek Easter bread for this event and gift the large bread to a friend who celebrates Easter. Easter for Greek Orthodox falls this year on April 27th and for others including USA, Easter is celebrated on March 23rd . Easter bread is traditionally baked with red Egg which represents new life, is one of the delicacies they bake on holy Thursday before Easter Sunday. This sweetish bread is also delicious for breakfast or with Feta cheese for lunch. Enjoy!:)

Greek Easter Bread:
Greek Easter bread also called Tsoureki Paschalino in Greek, meaning Easter Bread. It's another eggy bread beautifully shaped and very fragrant with Aniseeds to bake for Easter. I just had one problem with this recipe, my colored Easter Egg disappeared in the center after the bread is baked, so I stuck a few Dove milk chocolate Eggs on top, had to rescue my poor Easter bread from a sunken Easter egg!:D
It's better to add the colored egg on the top after you bake the bread instead of baking the bread with egg inside it! Of course you can always learn by my mistakes so you don't have to go Easter egg hunting in the deep center of the bread like I did!! Hahaha!!

Greek Easter Bread, Mardi Gras bread and Twister Bread:
These are all made with one dough but you can bake two huge Easter bread loaves with this recipe too instead of making three! And yes, DO NOT try to take photos by a huge window on a very sunny day! ;D

cb
This recipe for Greek Easter bread is adapted by "Williams-Sonoma" Kitchen library book called "Breads". I made one traditional Easter bread and two other shapes just to keep it interesting, it's up to you decide what you want to do. You can also freeze the half of the dough for later too! Click on the collage below to make it bigger to see the step by step pics.

To bake this bread, you need:
Spice mix:
1 bay leaf, (remove this after boiling the spice water)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon,
1 tsp crushed aniseeds,
1 tsp grated lemon zest,
1 cup water.
Liquid:
1/2 cup milk,
1/2 cup unsalted butter.
To add:
3 large eggs beaten,
1/2 cup sugar,
1 tsp salt,
1 pack or 2 1/4 tsp of Quick Rise Yeast,
4 cups of unbleached bread flour,
2-2 1/2 cups or less wheat bread flour as needed. (or just use 6-7 cups plain bread flour)
To top:
2 hard boiled and dyed red eggs (for two loaves,1 egg for each loaf),
or few chocolate eggs to top if you don't want to use hardboiled eggs,
1 egg+ 1tsp water to glaze,
2 tbsp sesame seeds to sprinkle on top.
Some colorful sugar for Mardi Gras bread! :D

To bake the bread:
1. In a bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients (spices+water) and heat for 2 minutes in the microwave, and discard the Bay leaf. Let the mixture cool to 110-115 F or until lukewarm. (Yeast will die if it's too hot or will not rise if colder than 110F!)
2. Heat milk and butter together for a minute in the microwave until it's lukewarm or 110 degrees. (Same applies here too, keep the temp at 110-115F)
3. On an electric stand mixer bowl with flat beater or by hand, beat the eggs first and then add milk mixture and spice mixture, then add in the sugar, salt and yeast.
4. Gradually add in 5 cups or more of bread flour until it becomes a soft dough and change to dough hook. Keep adding flour if needed up to 2 more cups or less and knead the dough until it's not sticky and pulls away from the bowl for 6-7 mins.
5. Brush the dough ball with oil, cover the bowl and let it rise to double in a warm place for an hour. When it doubles, punch down, place it on the counter.
6. Cut 1/5 of the dough and keep it separately. Shape the rest of the dough into two 8" loaves and place them on to two baking sheets, cover. (just make one loaf if you are using the other half of the dough for other shapes)
7. Cut 1/5 of the dough into 8 parts for 2 loaves and roll each part into a long rope, twist pairs of ropes together to make four twisted pairs of ropes.
8. Place 1 red egg on each loaf in the center (or save to add later) and criss cross two ropes over each egg and tuck in the end of the ropes underneath the loaf. Cover both loaves and let it rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Egg wash:
9. Beat one egg with water for egg wash and brush the egg mix on the loaves and sprinkle both loaves with sesame seeds and bake them until golden brown for 35-45 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool. Store in a airtight bag and keep it in the fridge to reheat, if you are not using the bread immediately. Best when freshly baked!

Note: Add the colored egg on top to serve or place a few Chocolate eggs on warm bread for a yummy gooey treat. My son ate a slice topped with Duncan Hines chocolate frosting! :D

To make Mardi Gras Bread and the Twister bread!
For colorful Mardi Gras bread:
With half of the above dough, cut into half. Shape one to a round loaf, brush with egg, sprinkle colored sugar on top, place a chocolate egg in the center. Cover and let it rise to bake.

For Twister bread: With the other half of the dough ie 1/4 th of the whole dough, roll into about 16" rope, fold in half in the middle and twist the rope around itself and seal the end. Place a chocolate egg on top in the center groove and let it rise to bake later.

Freeze: You can make one Easter bread loaf with half the dough, freeze the other half of the dough for another day! That's it, hope you try and enjoy this Easter bread! :)

Another look:

cb1

Happy Easter and happy Holi cerebration to all of you, have a fun and peaceful holiday. Enjoy the Spring, I will see you all again in May!:))

97 comments:

Nags said...

i am yet to master the braid in bread (among other things!)..

hope you have a nice break.. have fun!

SMN said...

Hey Ashakka.. Yepeeeeeeeeee first one to comment.. great lukin bread.. nice twists and turns...Happy easter in Advance..

Srivalli said...

wow..that Twister bread looks tempting...gosh Asha...where do you get your inspiration to bake like this...pure torture i tell you...looks lovely...am sure your friend will be so happy!

sunita said...

Beautiful breads,Asha. Now off you go and enjoy your holiday :-)

Roopa said...

Hi Asha Lovely post, I didnt know about the use if Red egg on occassion of Easter, I too used Red egg for making the Easter egg in my post :) , I like the William Sonoma, store in the shopping mall nearby my apartment, it has so many wonderful kitchen appliances, thanks for the info regarding their cookbook, lovely mardi gras bead and twister bread ! I saw in Foodies hope that you are taking a Spring Break, Enjoy your break asha! Come back refreshed as we would definitly miss your posts and comments ! We are also going to Orlando next week for a week, so thats sort of a short, early spring break :)

Asha said...

Nags, just take 2 ropes and roll them them together, braids are easy too. You will never know if you don't try it! I will enjoy, thanks! :)

Second is great too smn!:D
Thanks girl, see you in May!:)

Bread is sweetish Sri, makes a great breakfast. I love baking bread and watching it rise in the oven!!:D
Have a great Dosa round up, see you in May!:)

sra said...

Have fun on your break, Asha, will miss you!

RAKS KITCHEN said...

How good you are in b(m)aking bread! I just admire ur skill! I thought you were in break!?

Asha said...

Thanks for your support as always Sunita, will miss you. But need to break away for a while.See you in May, hugs to you. Take care!:))

Roopa, red represents blood of Jesus and Egg is a symbol of new life. It's a great traditional but in US, everything is commercialized! Easter is more about bunnies and Egg hunting!:D
Enjoy Orlando without thinking of blogging, that's what I am going to do too! See you then!:)

easycrafts said...

The twists and turns in the bread look so lovely...u excel in this toooo...Have a nice memorable break

Asha said...

Will miss you too sra, keep well until I come back!:))

Thanks Raks, I love baking bread better than baking cakes!:)
I am on break from 20th ie from tomorrow, completely off blogging this time!:D

Thank you EC, you are a sweet girl, will miss you girl. Hugs, see you in May!:)

kamala said...

Asha ji ,this one is really awesome.i like that bridal bread.Never made bread at home.i miss u till may.

arundati said...

dear asha...i hope you have a wonderful break with the family....bread looks awesome....i added FH to my blogroll....i hope that you wont mind.... love and hugs....arundati

Asha said...

Thank you Kamala, will miss you. You just started your blog, I will be on break but don't worry, I will say hi as soon as I come back!:)
Start with the "Irish Soda Bread" and "ordinary bread loaf" (google at FH side bar or goto recipe Index "bakes")I have at Foodies Hope if you want to try the bread baking. They are the easiest to bake for sandwiches and soups. Try it!:))

Laavanya said...

Twisted beauties Asha... Very interesting. Have a fun break.

Nandita said...

Looks straight out of a specialist bakery - absolutely lovely looking breads - and they look good sitting in the sun! Thanks to this post, I'll be sending some stuff to the Bread round up too!

Asha said...

Thanks Arundati, I will enjoy the break.
No, I don't mind at all! I have about 150 blogs in my blog roll myself! ;D
Have fun, see you when I come back!:)

Thanks Laavanya, I will. Will miss you all but got to have a break, Kids will be home for Spring break for 2 weeks. See you in May!:))

Asha said...

Oh, I appreciate your words Nandita, thank you. It is a great tasting bread, loved it. I can't wait for the round up, will get many yummy breads to try!:))

Rachna said...

awww cute cute bread asha, u truely inspire me... im on of those people that fear bread baking....

RAKS KITCHEN said...

Oh Okay! So break from tommorrow huh? This time really take a break and relax ! No sneaking to selected blogs Okay? ;D
Enjoy the break!
Need not reply:)

Kalai said...

The breads look like they've come from a bakery! I can just imagine the lovely smells in your kitchen while they were baking, Ashakka. Have a wonderful, well-deserved break! Look forward to seeing your posts and sweet comments when you get back! :)

Dhivya said...

lovely bread asha:)happy easter to u too...Miss u :((enjoy ur holiday

Asha said...

Rachna, thank you. Try baking the easiest bread first. You will love it. Use the stand mixer, you don't need to knead either:)

Hahaha!! Raks, I know! Last time I said hi to YUM blog while I was on break and so many pounced on me! ;D
No blogging 100% this time. Hugs to you, enjoy. Kids will be at home from Friday!:)

Asha said...

I will Kalai. I will miss your sweet comments too. I think most bloggers will be off too in Spring anyway. See you when I come back, hugs to you. Take care!:)

Thanks D!
You too have a great Holi and Easter(if you have it). I will see you in May, hugs!:)

Lavi said...

Happy Easter..Enjoy your break..you need it.

Looking Forward for your posts in May:)

Richa said...

that is one gorgeous bread, liked the info you gave!
Happy Holi & enjoy your time taking in the beauty of the ocean, sweetie :)

Daily Meals said...

Hi Asha! The bread looks delicious. Happy Holi to you too...Love the dosas...

Uma said...

wow, lovely bread. have a great fun-filled break, Asha!

bee said...

you forgot to sneak in some garlic for jihva for garlic. :D love these breads.

Pooja said...

I thought I caught your post early today and what I see ???there are already 24 comments b4 me :( !!!. there is no world like "early" for me :(( .
Bread looks wonderful, I really wonder how much creatively you cook everything . I have not started baking bread experiments yet ,lucky Hubby :)).
Have a wonderful vacation , enjoy all the days . thats the treasure you will cherish for the life time specially having two lovley kids around all time :) Hugs to you.

Pooja V said...

Bread looks so gorgeous. I loved the twisted bread.
Have a great holiday !

TheCooker said...

Have a good break.
The breads look yummy; all of them.

Cham said...

Asha Wow, what else i can say. I can see the Jesus Christ Cross in the breads. Definetly something very suitable theme for the Good Fiday and Easter. I admire ur cooking talent. Enjoy ur break & see u soon in May:)
Cham.

Rachel said...

Wow is the word when I see the bread...it has browned so well...coating of butter did that?

Have a great break!

sowmya said...

too good..they are so gorgeous...have fun!!!

Vanamala said...

WoW wonderful bread....will try it once ... never tried bread :(

Mansi Desai said...

those look indeed professional Asha! I have to try bread baking now, that's one thing missing in my repertoire:)

Have a wonderful break with your family, and enjoy the season!! c ya soon!:)

Asha said...

Lavi, Richa, Vijaya, and Uma thanks girls. Yes, I can't wait to see that Ocean, been long. We were there last August. See you all then, enjoy!:)

Asha said...

Bee, didn't know Garlic was on at all until now. Oh well.. will miss it I guess although I have garlic bread already!:)

Pooja, blogger was off for a while. That's okay, always take you time. Thanks, once you start baking, you can't stop! :D

Pooja V and TC, thanks to both you. Enjoy Holi, didn't know until somebody mentioned it in her blog!:)

Asha said...

Cham, that's what I thought. Very appropriate bread for Easter and Good Friday too, glad you liked it!:)

Rachel, did I forget to say Egg wash on top there? OMG! I will add it ASAP, I did use Egg wash on top. Thanks for reminding me!:)

Asha said...

Sowmya, Vanamala, thanks. Try the easy bread once and then you can experiment with different flavors!:)

Mansi, that's true! You don't have baked bread. If you can bake a cake, what's stopping you from baking breads girl?
Use the stand mixer for kneading, cuts out lot of work. Give it a try. start with Irish sods bread I have posted at FH. See you in May!:))

Divya Vikram said...

The bread looks gorgeous..Nice brown colour..And Happy Easter to u..

AnuZi said...

Ashaji: I cant believe you made bread! It looks yummy! Btw have you considered writing your own cook book. I love that give you history of the dishes and significance of the ingredients. If you do ever get to publishing a book....I'll be the first to order it ;o)
- Your biggest fan: Anuzi

Happy cook said...

HI Asha Didn't had no time to get near the computer today, was really busy and now i have some free time.
The bread looks delicious.
I have bookmarked to make them for a lazy afternoon.
Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the beach, we live 7 minutes away from the sea, but the weather is so bad one is not going to that side. See you in June as when you are back in May I will be taking my one month blog break as sis is comming.
Will send you mails when I have some news or gossip tp say :-)

AnuSriram said...

Looks gr8! Lovely bread! Twist on the bread looks awesome...

Asha said...

Egg wash gives that nice color DV, hope you try!:)

Hi Anu, thanks girl. Many have asked me the same. I don't know about writing a book, blogging takes all my time! ;D

F, have a wonderful time with your sis, don't worry about bogging. I will see you when you come back!:)
That's one problem with Europe, they have beautiful beaches but then you can enjoy them fully only in Summer months!:D
Hugs to you, have a fun Easter there and celebrate!:)

Asha said...

Thank you Anu S, hope you try girl. See you in May!:)

sandhya said...

the bread looks fabulous.... Enjoy your spring break...

TBC said...

Enjoy your break, Asha. Stay away from the computer, o.k?;-)

Meera said...

Asha,
That bread looks gorgeous.
I am going to miss you. But take a nice break and come back real soon, ok?
We are all set for Easter Egg hunt this Sat. That's my daughter's favorite activity.
Happy Holi to u & urs.

Namratha said...

Phew your breads always give me a complex Asha, they look great!

Red Chillies said...

I need to gather all strength to bake a bread. Yours looks delicious and does not seem all that complicated.

Enjoy the break Asha. We will miss you!

Asha said...

Will do Sandhya, thank you!:)

tbc, I will stay away from PC as soon as I delete all my blog roll pop ups! Got to do that everyday otherwise I will accumulate thousands of posts!:D

Meera,young kids will have a blast on Easter,specially in US, have fun. I will be packing tomorrow, busy day for me. Enjoy the egg hunting! See you in May! :)

Asha said...

Namratha,if you can bake a cake, you can bake bread.I am sure you will master that too,try it! See you in May,hugs to you!:)

RC, start with the easy bread and then you can experiment with various flavors, it's really fun! You can always have them for breakfast and enjoy.
I will miss you too, hugs. Enjoy the Spring!:)

Susan said...

Your breads are lovely! This is the first time I have heard of using bay leaf in bread -- I think the combination of spices is very appealing. Thank you for participating in BreadBakingDay!

Asha said...

Thank you Susan, glad you liked my Easter bread!
Bay leaf and Aniseeds gives the bread a subtle flavor, you will have to REMOVE the Bay leaf after boiling the spice water of course. Enjoy and have a great Easter!:))

Seema said...

Created yet another piece of art, Asha! They look so lovely & perfect!
Enjoy your vacation & the Blue Ocean :-)

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

Looks excellent Asha..There is no end to perfection!!
The twister bread looks very tempting!!

Have a great holi :)

Asha said...

Thank you Seema and Swati, I appreciate it. Yeah, I can't wait to see that Ocean again, last time we were there was in August.
Have a great weekend girls, see you both in May!:))

Seena said...

Looks beautiful and simple, Nice pictures..
Hope your holidays started.. :)

Suganya said...

Have a great vacation, Asha. Lets see how well you survive w/o blogging ;)

Jayashree said...

The braid looks perfect.....

Asha said...

Packing tomorrow Seena, finishing all the left over veggies in the fridge today!:)

Hahaha! Suganya, I have already stopped surfing today, just moderating comments! This time I will be off 100% and enjoy reading in my spare time!:)

Thanks Jaya, easy to do the braids. Looks complicated, that's all!:)

Have a great weekend and enjoy the Spring all of you, see you in May!

Linda said...

Challah bread is braided too, Asha, but I have never tried baking either one! I thought you had already taken your break, happy surprise to see this lovely bread here. My tulips and other bulbs are popping up now -- hope the weather warms so I can get digging out back. Enjoy your spring and see you when your garden is coming along! :)

Asha said...

Hi Linda,I stopped blogging on the 20th, had to post this for Easter, at the beach right now!:)
Yes, that book said it's like Challah bread too, got to bake real Challah one day.
Have a great Spring, it's hot here and flowers are blooming everywhere. I will start planting veggies in April, soil is ready. Mint and Chives are already plenty now. Enjoy, see you in May!:)

Sukanya Ramkumar said...

Hi Asha....This is a nice bread.... Nice shape...They are tempting...Hope u are enjoying!....

Asha said...

Thanks Sukanya. Yes,we are having a great time, just lazing around looking at the Ocean!:)
Enjoy the Spring, will see you in May.

Sunshinemom said...

Hey Asha, I liked your style of writing very much!! Enjoy your vacation, and have lots of fun!! I loved this bread of yours..

Asha said...

Enjoy the bread SM, thanks. We are having fun here!:)

Raaga said...

this looks so tempting... I wish I could make bread like this.

S will be in Charlotte in April... how far is that from where you are?

Asha said...

Hi Raaga, bread is easy ti make but just lot of waiting time for proofing etc. We are about 150 miles away, but we won't be home until 2 more weeks since kids have Spring break from school now and we are getting some much needed break from the routine until then! Ask S to enjoy the city, it's beautiful!:))

Raaga said...

he's coming to raleigh :-) and in the second/third week of april :-) I am sure he will enjoy the place :-)

Asha said...

We are in South Carolina now. Raleigh is okay, I don't like it much, busy all the time but lot of Indian Engineers live there. I am sure he will enjoy his time meeting loads of NRIs, enjoy! :))

Mona said...

Wow! Those twisted rolls look so yummy!

I love Cinnamon rolls!

Asha said...

Hi Mona, they are yummy indeed, we loved it fir breakfast. I am on blogging break until May, see you then. Hope you are having fun there, take care!:))

Deepak Gopi said...

Hi
I have easten some thing like this but now only I know that its root r from greece.
Good day TC

Asha said...

Isn't that great to learn about the things we eat every once in a while without knowing the origin, Deepak? Glad I found this too, enjoy. See in May!:)

Dhanggit said...

im not a bread baker!! but i must admit i cant wait to try this one..the photos looks stunningly delicious!!

Asha said...

Hi D, nice to see you here. Glad you liked it. It's easy to bake this Easter bread, easier than baking cakes. Hope you try!:)
See you in May.

Sia said...

madam, remember u r on break!!! so why am i seeing u hopping to few blogs??? ;) hope u r enjoying all sun and sand :)
have fun... i am off on vac in 2 weeks time:D

Asha said...

lol! Sia, few bloggers came to FH and told me that they chose my dish for MBP, so I had to say thanks to them and wish a few on their blog anniversaries.
I still have to delete all the blog roll posts which pop up EVERYDAY (and moderate comments) which is a chore for me even if I am on break, can't help it!:)
I am having fun now, will start cooking from other blogs including your's when I am home. When I do come back, I won't be blogging more than 3 days a week, life gets busier from May!
Have a wonderful Ugadi and a safe trip to India. Enjoy the wedding. Hugs to you. See you in May!:)

SaraLynn said...

Wonderful looking bread!

Asha said...

Thanks Sara, I enjoyed baking it!:)

Y said...

Love your breads! And great idea with the chocolate eggs!

Asha said...

Thanks Y, great bread for breakfast too!:))

Madhavi said...

Hi Asha, wow i jus love your blog. Bread looks awesome, very nice entry :))

plz do visit @

http://vegetarianmedley.blogspot.com/

Asha said...

Hi Madhavi, thank you. Enjoy blogging!:))

arunshanbhag.com said...

Hi ASha!
WoW! you are a master baker too!

and yes, aren't you on vacation?
Enjoy the spring!
:-)

Asha said...

Hi Arun, baking is very soothing and comforting indeed, I love it, specially breads!:)

We came back from the beach, weather was in upper 70s there which was great! As soon as we came home,it started raining non-stop for a whole week!:D

Yes, I am still blog break until May, see you then. Take care!:))

TV Digital said...

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Asha said...

Thanks TV D, enjoy!:))

IRENE said...

I am so glad I found you! I have posted a link to you from my blog. Thank you!

Asha said...

Hi Irene, thanks! I will check your post as well. Enjoy and have a good day today!:)

Happy cook said...

Hey Asha how are you.
From the comment section i gather you are having a wonderful time.
I am also on a break.
Sis will be here on friday and i have been cleaning and tidding up etc :-) still am busy but thought will take a pause.

Asha said...

Hi F, good to see you here. I have pretty bad allergy right now, coping with it somehow.It's hard to concentrate on anything.
Yeah, beach vacation was great, was very warm when we were there, enjoyed it. Kids are at school now, getting ready for all the final exams coming up in May.
Enjoy your sister's company, must be exciting for you. Have a great time friend, hugs to you.I will be back blogging on the 30th, thinking of cooking for Rajasthan now!:))

Christine said...

This came out delicious! Great recipe. I made one into the shape described and the other loaf I divided in three and braided. That came out very pretty too.

Asha said...

Christine, thanks for the feedback. I love this bread too, great to have a slice for breakfast. Glad you tried and enjoyed it! :)