Braided Easter egg breads are common this time of year in many European countries. Recently I couldn’t get them off my mind so I chose to make a variation of the Greek tsoureki. First I thought it was such a odd concept, but soon realized it was perfection because…. well, eggs and bread. Nestling eggs into a bread dough and baking it all together charms me in that old cottagey type of way. Two foods that have always given people nourishment and are staples in most homes–together, as one. Both the dough and eggs go into the oven raw and return fully baked, ready to be broken and shared. I love this idea. How ingenious and strange all at once. It is traditionally topped with eggs dyed red to represent rebirth, renewal and the blood of Christ, but I chose to keep these beautiful eggs nude.
As I pressed the eggs into the raw dough, I immediately thought of the green fairy in Sleeping Beauty who bakes her a birthday cake. Watch it. Or don't. I'll tell you what happens anyways. She reads, “fold in the eggs” and literally folds them whole into the dough. Then she makes a 15 layer cake, frosts it and puts the lit candles on before baking it. It's great.
Ahhhhh Disney. You never let me down... Until I got older. And realized I couldn’t model real relationships after Sleeping Beauty who meets a strange man in the forest who she sings a duet with for 2 minutes (both natural musicians I guess). And without even having a conversation they're immediately in love. I never met a man in a forest that I felt even remotely comfortable with because, AHH! YOU SCARED ME! WHY THE F#*$ ARE YOU OUT HERE ALONE IN A FOREST? Creepy!
But truly, this was such a joy to make. It is my first plaited bread which seemed intimidating at first but it wasn’t hard. I chose an easier three strand braid so not to confuse myself too much. The taste is amazing and I’ve eaten this bread with pretty much everything in my fridge. It’s delicious with it all–from cheeses to jams to the eggs baked on it. My personal favourite is a smear of blue cheese topped with marmalade. Heaven!
And coffee. Always coffee.
CARDAMOM + BLOOD ORANGE TSOUREKI
t h e m a g i c
i n s p i r a t i o n : Easter + breaking bread
f e e l s : crisp outside + tender inside. savoury + sweet. zesty + exotic. cozy + comforting.
e a t w i t h : coffee, black tea, butter, jam, honey, soft cheeses (brie, cream cheese, labneh, blue), marmalade, chai latte, nutella, lemon curd (or any curd for that matter).
m i g h t l i k e i f y o u ' r e i n t o : holiday feasts, family recipes, the simple things, traditions, bread for breakfast, lunch or dinner, all-in-one meals, pull apart breads, challah, brioche.
t h e s c i e n c e
makes 1 loaf (about 8 servings)
i n g r e d i e n t s :
- 500 g unbleached all-purpose (2 2/3 cups)
- 21 g dry active yeast (2.5 Tbsp)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 100 ml warm water
- 50 g sugar (1/4 cup)
- 6 eggs total: 2 (for dough) + 1 (for brushing) + 3 (to lay on top)
- 75 g butter, softened and cut into small chunks (1/3 cup)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- zest of 2 blood oranges
m e t h o d :
- Proof the yeast: mix the dry active yeast, water and pinch of sugar together. Let sit for 10 minutes. The yeast will dissolve and the mixture will become foamy.
- Mix together the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Make a well in the centre of the mixture. Add milk, eggs, sugar, orange zest, cardamom and yeast mixture to the well.
- Attach dough hook to stand mixer and mix on low until a soft dough forms (about 5 minutes).
- Add butter one piece at a time while dough is still mixing until it all comes together as a soft dough (about 5 minutes).
- Remove dough and gently form into a ball with hands. Place into lightly greased bowl. Cover bowl with saran wrap and place on counter to proof until the dough is double in size. (Depending on how warm your kitchen is, time will vary between 40 minutes to 2 hours. If your kitchen is on the colder side you can place on top of your fridge or in your oven with only the oven light on to speed up proofing process.)
- Remove dough onto lightly floured surface and form into ball. Cut into 3 even pieces. Roll out each evenly into long cylinders about 45 cm in length. Plait (braid) pieces together then overlap and pinch ends in together to form a wreath. (It's okay if looks messy where the ends meet, you can hide it with an egg).
- Place on parchment lined baking tray, cover with dishtowel and let proof slightly for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush dough wreath with generous egg wash all over. Press remaining 3 raw eggs into dough evenly spaced. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. Cool on rack.
*best eaten the day of but will keep for another couple days in plastic wrap.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller