In Greece tsoureki is traditionally an Easter bread, but because it’s so delicious you can find it everywhere now. Often you will find larger loaves, about double the size of this recipe. Mahlab is an aromatic, but slightly bitter spice made from the kernel of the sour cherry. It is commonly used in Greek and Middle Eastern baked goods, and in Greece it is called mahlepi (μαχλέπι).
90g Fresh Yeast
125g Strong Bread Flour
190ml Warm Water
a pinch of salt
75g Melted Butter
Grated Zest of 1 Orange
4tsp Mahlepi (or ground almond if you can’t find mahlepi)
Flaked Almonds (for decoration)
Optional: Choc chips
Stage 1: Mix the yeast, warm water, flour and salt into a soft dough. Leave to rise for 1 hour
Stage 2: Add all the other ingredients, mix and then knead on a floured surface for 15 minutes. You need a little extra time kneading to get the gluten working.
Once the dough is elastic and soft. cut into small balls (approximately 95g) and then roll into sausages and leave to rest for 5 minutes. If using choc chips, flatten each ball onto the choc chips and then close the choc chips inside the dough as if you are working around a clock, starting at 12 o clock. By the end you have a ball with the choc chips inside. Then you can roll.
After 5 minutes, roll the dough into a long thin line , starting from the centre and working out. Then shape into a braid or a swirl and place on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Leave to rise again until doubled in size, and when you touch them the dough doesn’t spring back – check after 30 minutes.
Brush with an egg wash and bake for 12 minutes at 180ºc until golden.