Tsoureki is a sweet egg-based bread that is traditionally served during Easter. Flavored with refreshing mastiha and fruity mahlepi, this bread is soft and delicious. As it takes so much work to make it, aim for the large batch and freeze your loaves to eat at a later date. Not for the faint of heart, you should start in the morning and allow yourself a full day to make this bread!

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Ingredients – 12 loaves
7 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp mastiha, ground
1/2 tsp mahlepi powder
2 cups butter, melted
4 1/4 milk (1L bag)
4 cups sugar
7 tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water
22 cups flour

Ingredients – Topping
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp milk
Toasted almonds
Easter egg (cooked)

Ingredients – 4 loaves
2 eggs + 1/2 beaten
1 egg yolk + 1/2 beaten
Scant 1/4 tsp mastiha
Scant 1/4 tsp mahlepi
2/3 cups butter, melted
1 1/3 milk + 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
7 1/3 cups flour

Activate the yeast in warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. While the yeast rises, warm the milk with the remaining sugar. Do not allow the milk to boil (you just want to melt down the sugar). In a large bowl, mix together 4 cups flour (1 cup if making the smaller amount of loaves) with the mastiha and mahlepi. Set the flour mixture aside.

Beat the egg whites until frothy and add in the yolks one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the beaten eggs to the flour mixture along with the heated milk and yeast mixture. Add half the butter and, using your hands, incorporate the flour into the liquid mixtures. (The mixture will be very sticky at first – adding butter to your hands will help keep the dough from sticking to your hands.) Add the remaining flour a few cups at a time and knead into the mixture, alternating with the butter until all ingredients have been added. Knead the dough for 1/2 hour and cover and let it rest for 4 hours. Ensure to cover with a heavy towel to keep the dough as warm as possible.

After the first rise, punch down the dough and begin to knead by turning the dough over into itself and punching it down and in. This will create ribbons in the bread. Continue this process for a half hour. Cover the dough and let it rise once again for an additional 4 hours.

For the final kneading process, repeat the previous kneading process for 15 minutes. Afterwards, roll out the dough into a long tube and cut it into portions. Taking one portion at a time, knead it for an additional 15 minutes and then roll it into a long tube. Take the ends of the tube and twist (creates the twist effect on the bread). Place the twisted dough in a parchment lined bread pan, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with almonds. If desired, place the Easter egg at the top of the bread in the valley created when twisting (note: if you plan to freeze the bread, don’t add an egg). Cover and let the dough rise in the pan one more time for one hour. Before baking, lightly brush a second time with the egg wash. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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