Traditionally known as Tsoureki, this beautifully braided sweet bread is a staple during Greek Easter. Serve warm with Nutella for a seriously indulgent breakfast treat!

Prep:
40 min + rising
Cook:
30 min
Serves:
2 loaves

Ingredients

Pre-ferment
  1. 1 ¼ cup (310ml) full cream milk
  2. ¾ (110g) plain flour
  3. ¼ (55g) sugar
  4. 2 sachets dried yeast
Dough
  1. 4 ⅔ cups (700g) plain flour
  2. ⅔ cup (150g) caster sugar
  3. ½ tsp salt
  4. 1 tbsp orange zest (zest of ½ orange)
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 2 tsp Queen Vanilla Bean Paste
  7. ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  8. 100g butter, melted
Glaze
  1. 1 egg yolk, extra
  2. 1 tbsp milk
Eggs
  1. 4 tsp Queen Pillar Box Red Food Colour
  2. 3 hard-boiled eggs
  3. 2 cups boiling water
  4. 4 tsp white vinegar

Method - Pre-ferment

  1. Step 1

    Gently warm milk in the microwave for 20 seconds. Add to a large bowl and add yeast, flour, and sugar. Cover with cling wrap and allow to proof for one hour.

Method - Dough & Glaze

  1. Step 1

    In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, orange zest and cardamom. Make a well in the center. Add yeast mixture, melted butter, eggs and Vanilla Bean Paste. Work from the center outwards, bringing flour into the well, stirring the mixture until a dough begins to form.

  2. Step 2

    Turn dough out onto a bench dusted with flour. Knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands, adding more flour if necessary. Try not to add too much flour, the dough will become less sticky as it is kneaded.

  3. Step 3

    Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a wet tea towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about two hours.

  4. Step 4

    Punch down dough and divide into six small balls. Roll each into strips about 30cm long, and 2.5cm wide. Lay three strips side by side, pinching together at one end, and braid. Slightly fold each end under itself to neaten. Repeat with remaining balls of dough.

  5. Step 5

    Place braided dough onto two baking trays lined with baking paper, cover with a lightly greased piece of cling wrap and allow to rise for 20 minutes in a warm place. While the braids are rising, preheat oven to 170°C (fan forced).

  6. Step 6

    Beat together egg yolk and milk. Brush mixture over loaves and gently press hardboiled eggs into one of the braids. Bake both braids for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Check after 15 minutes and cover with foil if browning too quickly. When cooked, loaves will sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool completely on racks.

Method - Eggs

  1. Step 1

    Once braids have cooled, remove the eggs. Fill container with 1 cup of boiling water. Mix in 2 tsp white vinegar and 2 tsp of Pillar Box Red Food Colour. Submerge eggs using a metal spoon and leave for 5 minutes until desired colour is achieved. Remove eggs with slotted spoon and place on a drying rack set over paper towel and allow to dry completely before placing back into the braids to serve.

Recipe Tips:
If weather is a little too cool for proofing the dough, preheat oven to 90°C (fan forced), turn off the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes and then place tea towel covered bowl into the oven resting on another tea towel.

Over proofed dough will start to flatten out and blend together, braids will only need 20 minutes for their second rise and no more than 30.

To prevent eggs staining the braids with red food colour, dye them after baking.

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