Labour of love. And by love I mean eternal, unconditional, devotion and worship. I LOVE “tsoureki”. And I have always said that, it’s not just an easter bread but, a year-long enjoyment.
I have tried and tested many methods of making “tsoureki”. If I had to give you one tip is to knead it as if your life depends on it. And for the best possible results, you do need a mixer fitted with a dough hook, unless you have unbelievable strong arms, which I don’t.
I have been recently experimenting with the “tangzhong” method and I have to say, it achieves very fluffy results. In fact, so fluffy, that I needed to bake the “tsoureki” in a loaf pan for it not to spread, and lose its shape.
About the filling, you can go ahead and just use Nutella, but that is too sweet for my taste. I created my own filling with dark chocolate and butter. I did add some Nutella in there, because I couldn’t resist! But the sweetness was just perfectly balanced.
This is a gorgeous and delicious sweet bread. Braiding will take some practice to perfect but, who cares about that, when the taste is so incredibly amazing.
For the “tangzhong”:
- 100 g water
- 25 g strong (bread) flour (“horiatiko”, green label)
For the dough:
- 30 g orange peel
- 140 g granulated sugar
- 100 g whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 500 g strong (bread) flour (“horiatiko”, green label)
- 11 g dry active yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 115 g unsalted butter
For the filling:
- 150 g dark chocolate (about 40-50% cocoa solids)
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 25 g cocoa powder
- 30 g granulated sugar
- 50 g Nutella
Make the “tangzhong” by placing water and flour over medium-high heat and stirring until a paste forms.
Remove from heat and add directly to the mixer bowl. Pour over the milk.
In a small blender, chop orange peel and sugar. Add to the mixer bowl together with the eggs, flour, yeast, salt and butter. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until dough is very stretchy and doesn’t break when pulled.
Transfer dough in a buttered bowl. Cover and proof for 2-3 hours until double in size.
Make the filling by melting chocolate and butter in a double boiler (bain-marie). Mix in cocoa powder, sugar and Nutella. Mixture will be slightly thick.
Line the base and sides of a 12 x 22 loaf pan with greaseproof paper, leaving some hanging from the sides.
After dough has doubled, tip on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 40 x 50 cm rectangle. Spread the filling on the entire surface of the dough using a small spatula or butter knife.
Roll dough into a log, starting from the wide side. Cut log in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Then half those pieces to create four. Make a 4-strand braid (watch video on how to braid). Alternatively you can create three pieces and make a 3-strand braid.
Transfer braid into loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and let it stand for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 175 C, fan.
After 30 minutes, bake “tsoureki” for 45-50 minutes. If the surface becomes too dark, cover loosely with foil.
Cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Use the paper overhang to transfer “tsoureki” on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.