Tsoureki is a Greek sweet bread made at Easter-time. It is fluffy, aromatic, and once you try it, you will be making a batch or two all year long. Learn how easy it is to make this fluffy bread by following my step-by-step instructions. Get some coffee ready and call your loved ones over!
Tsoureki is fabulous as is but, we kicked it up a notch by filling it with all sorts of delicious fillings. My personal favorite is the frangipane filled tsoureki. Frangipane is a creamy filling that is made with almond flour, butter, eggs, and a few other simple ingredients. Basically, its tastes similar to the world-famous almond croissant. Except, dare I say that this version is even better?
Next up, the chocolate hazelnut filled tsoureki , comes in at 2nd best. Actually, if you ask the kids, it’s definitely their favorite. Use your favorite chocolate hazelnut filling. I have a homemade recipe right here.
Then, I also filled the magnificent brioche wreaths with some softened cream cheese and sour cherry preserves. The options are endless! You can use a combination or any one of the following to stuff your tsourekia.
Watch the Video Tutorial here:
What can I use as a filling?
- Nutella or your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread
- preserves (but try not to add the syrup)
- cream cheese (sweetened or plain)
- chocolate chips
- chocolate ganache
Can you see that chocolate oozing out of the sweet bread? Yumm!!
Now, you can also leave them as is , without any filling. The aromatic mahlepi (ground cherry kernels), the citrus, and vanilla extract lend so much flavor. Your house will smell heavenly. Of course, you can also add 1/2 teaspoon of finely ground Mastiha (Mastic gum crystals) as it is a classic ingredient in this bread. I opted to leave it out this time so that there aren’t too many flavors going on especially since they’re filled.
Mastiha and Mahlepi are both sold at Mediterranean/Middle Eastern markets. I like to buy them whole then, grind them myself. They keep fresher that way. If you cannot find them locally, here are links from my Amazon affiliate:
Can tsoureki be made with all-purpose flour?
Tsoureki is very similar to brioche and challah. It is best to make this sweet bread using bread flour to create the soft and stringy texture that this Greek classic is known for. However, currently, we are still in a quarantine and bread flour is nearly impossible to find.
So, I tested my original recipe with all-purpose flour as a substitute for the bread flour and I’m very happy to say that YES, it worked!
Here’s how to pull it off:
- The trick comes down to kneading the dough longer. When I say longer, I mean double the time of the original recipe. It’s key to buiding the gluten which will create that wonderful texture. Skipping this step will yield a crumbly, cake-like result. So, if you’re using a tabletop mixer, let that puppy run on low-speed (doing it on higher speed runs the risk of burning the motor) for 15 minutes. Then, add the soft butter and knead for an additional minute or two. If you’re kneading by hand, then the dough will need about 20 minutes. Trust me when I tell you that the end result is totally worth the extra time!!
- Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume. This will take some time because it is rich, dense dough. It could possibly take a little over two hours. However, if you use my dryer trick that is in my Brunch Book, it will take much less time. That time is a must if you want to end up with a soft pillowy tsoureki.
The best part is that they can be made ahead of time (3-4 days ahead) and stored in the refrigerator. Warm them through just a little right before serving or let them come to room temperature. They taste best the day they are made or 1 day prior but, it will still be pretty fantastic anyway!
You can shape them any way you like. The long twists in the picture above are not filled. You can fill them or leave them plain.
Make some coffee or tea and call some friends over to share the goodness! The memories created will be even sweeter with these delectable wreaths.
If you make this recipe, I would love to know what you think and what you did differently. Feel free to post your questions down below, in the comments section. I’m here to help!
Let’s Cook, Share, & Create beautiful memories!
For the starter:
- • 1/2 cup milk, lukewarm
- • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- • 1 teaspoon sugar
- • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
The Dry Ingredients:
- • 4-4 and 1/2 cups (720 grams) bread flour
- • 1 cup (240 g) granulated sugar
- • 1 tablespoon ground mahlepi
- • 1/2 teaspoon salt
- • 1/4 teaspoon ground mastic gum (optional)
The Wet Ingredients:
- • 3/4 cup (177 ml) lukewarm milk
- • 2 large eggs, beaten
- • zest of an orange
- • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- • Chocolate hazelnut spread
- • Almond frangipane (recipe follows)
- • Cream cheese
- • Jam/preserves
- • Chocolate ganache
- • Cinnamon sugar with nuts and raisins (cinnamon roll-style)
- The egg wash: 2 egg yolks plus 2-4 tablespoons milk
- optional fillings: dried cranberries, raisins, chopped nuts, candied fruit, ground cardamom, vanilla or almond extract
For the Almond Frangipane Filling:
- • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- • ½ cup granulated sugar
- • 2 eggs, at room temperature
- • 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- • 1 and ½ cups finely ground almond flour/meal
- • ½-1 teaspoon Lemon/orange zest
- Make the almond frangipane by combining the butter with the sugar, vanilla extract and mix together. Add the eggs and neat together until incorporated and fluffy. Add the almond flour with citrus zest and mix until combined. This mixture will keep fresh in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Combine the starter ingredients together in the bowl of a tabletop mixer. Whisk and set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It is ready when a puffy cloud forms above the mixture.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, salt, mahlepi, and mastic gum together. Mix well to combine.
- Once the yeast is activated, add all of the remaining ingredients to the mixer's bowl. Turn the mixer on low and knead for 8 minutes. (knead at least 12 minutes if using all-purpose flour- see note)
- Add the softened butter and increase the speed to medium (4 on the Kitchen aid) and knead for 2 minutes.
- Place some oil in the bottom of a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Toss around to coat and form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in volume. About 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Quick Rise Tip: My favorite place to keep the dough so that it rises quickly is in the dryer. Here is what I do:
- 1) I put 3-4 clean bath towels in the dryer and turn it on (high heat setting) for about 5-6 minutes.
- 2) I place the bowl with the dough into the dryer (on top of the warm towels) and close the door.
- 3) Make sure the dryer is OFF!!
- 4) Remove from the dryer when it has doubled in volume.
- This trick usually cuts 30 minutes from the rise time.
- Punch down the dough to remove the air. Cut into 2 equal portions.
- Cut each portion into 6 pieces.
- Work with two pieces of dough at a time. Roll each piece out into long rectangular strips. Spread 1 tablespoon of your favorite filling in the center of each strip. Leave a clean border so that each strip seals when rolled.
- Brush some water on the borders. Fold each strip over to seal and twist it slightly. This helps create texture.
- Attach the two pieces together at the top and twist them. At this point, they can be placed on the baking tray and they will keep their long, twisty shape, or, you can attach the ends together to form a wreath.
- Place both loaves onto a baking tray (18 by 13 inch) lined with parchment paper.
- Cover with plastic wrap or with a clean towel.
- Set aside in the warmest part of your house for 30 minutes and let them puff up.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
- Brush the tops of the brioche dough with the egg wash.
- Optional: Place a hard-boiled, dyed egg in the braids or top with sliced almonds.
- Bake in the center rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Once baked and cooled, the bread can be frozen up to a month. Just make sure to wrap it well with plastic wrap.
This dough can be prepared in a tabletop mixer or kneaded by hand in a large bowl or on the countertop. Using a mixer will require less kneading time. About 10 minutes. If making the dough by hand, knead it at least 15 minutes so that the gluten forms well to achieve the desired consistency and texture. If using all-purpose flour: I used all-purpose flour instead of the bread flour (during the stay at home quarantine) and it worked perfectly. If you’re making this in a tabletop mixer, then knead the dough at speed 1 for 12 minutes. In between kneading, take the dough off of the hook so that it kneads better. You can make the dough by hand as well. Just make sure to knead it for 20 minutes. Then, follow the remaining instructions and it will taste and look like you’ve used bread flour in the recipe.