I always believed that the Greek Easter Bread “Tsoureki” should be baked and enjoyed all year round. It is so delicious. Here is my Christmas version. It’s for those of you who think Christmas cake is really rich but just love the aromas of cinnamon and cloves and crave the taste of candied citrus peel. Well, this bread is for you.
It’s as if the the German “Stollen” and the Italian “Panettone” had a baby. Its fluffy, aromatic and your perfect Christmas morning treat. Its lighter and far less time consuming than a Christmas cake and it won’t stay around for long. I flavoured it with lemon and orange zest, citrus peel and rum soaked raisins. This is a quick-rise brioche dough so it won’t take up much of your time. If you have leftovers, slice it and bake slices in a moderate oven until crisp. You will have the perfect biscotti to dunk in a steaming cup of tea.
For the dough
- ¼ cup milk, lukewarm
- ¼ cup water, lukewarm
- 3 tsp dried active yeast (11 grams)
- 3 Tbs sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest from one orange
- Zest from one lemon
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups unbleached flour (bread flour)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cloves
- 125 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- ¾ cup candied citrus peel
- 2 Tbs dark rum
For the coating
- 50 grams unsalted butter, melted
- About 1 cup icing sugar
Put raisins, citrus peel, almonds and rum in a bowl. Mix briefly to combine. Set aside.
In a bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs, honey, sugar, vanilla, zests, water and milk. Whisk until mixed.
Attach the dough hook and add in the flour. Start beating at low-medium speed adding the butter along the way. Let your mixer do all the work. Beat for 10 minutes. The dough will be sticky and wet. That’s how it should be.
Add the raisin/citrus/rum mixture and beat until combined. Transfer mixture in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours until at least double in size.
After dough has risen, tip on a floured surface and shape as you wish. In this case I shaped the brioche into a loaf. I used a 13 x 22 cm loaf pan and lined it with greaseproof paper. Cover again with a towel and let it rise again for 30-45 minutes until risen a bit (it will not double in size).
Preheat oven to 175 C fan while loaf rises. Transfer brioche in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then cover loosely with foil and bake 20 minutes more.
Take brioche out of the oven. Lift the bread out of the pan and put on a wire rack. While it is still hot, brush all over with the melted butter. Sprinkle generously with the icing sugar. The sugar will create a sweet crust on the bread. Let brioche cool completely. Before slicing and serving. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap to keep it fresh.