Sweet Bread with Yeast (Brioche, Greek Tsoureki)
(Makes 4 brioches. Half the amounts for 2 brioche)
Some hints before starting the preparation
We need to prepare a strong dough in order to have the best result!
For preparing bread we need just to mix the ingredients and we can start the preparation for kneading.
Brioche is a “heavy” dough and we need to follow a little bit different process in order to give power to the dough to make it grow.
How to achieve this?
See below the steps described and
the best ever “Greek Tsoureki” prepared with yeast is guaranteed!
Mixture A (dissolving the yeast)
- 75 gr fresh yeast or 25 gr dry one
- 250 gr strong flour (special for brioche)
- 200 ml milk (lukewarm)
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 100 ml milk
- 400 gr sugar
(we may use also honey partially: 2 full spoons of honey can replace 50 g of sugar)
- 200 gr butter
- grated zest of -1- orange
- 14 g mahlab (mandatory if we want to make a real Greek brioche – tsoureki)
- 3 g mastic (mandatory if we want to make a real Greek brioche – tsoureki)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 g cardamom (optional)
- 6 eggs medium (50 g each) + 2 yolks (in total eggs should be 350 g)
- 5g salt
- 500g strong white flour
flour with higher % of proteins (above 10%)
- 500g all-purpose white flour
- 100 g butter, chilled and cut in pieces (to be added at the end of kneading)
- 1 egg yolk diluted with a spoon of milk
- slivers of almond or granulated sugar or sesame
- we place in a mixer bowl the yeast cut in small pieces (in case it is a fresh one), add 200 ml milk (lukewarm), the 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir till yeast is totally dissolved.
- Add the 250 gr of strong flour and let the bowl aside covered with a towel for about half an hour, for the yeast to activate.
- In case we want to include mastic and mahlab: beat 1 tablespoon of sugar with the mastic and mahlab using a mortar and pestle until finely ground.
- In a saucepan, we add the above mixture of mastic and mahlab, 100g milk, 200 g butter cut in pieces, orange zest, vanilla extract, and sugar.
- Place the saucepan over low heat and whisk constantly till all ingredients are fully incorporated. We just need the mixture to become warm NOT TO COME TO A BOIL.
- Remove from heat and let it aside for 5-10 min to cool.
- After mixture is totally cooled, we add the eggs and the salt, and we whisk thoroughly.
- Add the mixture in the mixer’s bowl where we have the sourdough and the milk. Place the hook attachment in the mixer and beat on low speed for 5 minutes.
- Add to the mixer bowl the flour and start beating on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated.
- Stop the process and take out half of the quantity (because most of the mixers can process up to 500 g of flour) place it in a bowl, cover it with a wet towel or a plastic wrap and let it aside.
- Increase mixer’s speed and beat the remaining dough for 10 min.
- Lowering mixer’s speed and add 50 g of the chilled butter cut in pieces. Add a piece at a time waiting till it is totally incorporated before adding the next. When the last piece of butter is completely incorporated the dough is ready. (Dough is ready when it pulls back from the sides of the mixer’s bowl.)
- Transfer the dough to another large bowl which is brushed with some vegetable oil (preferably not olive oil because it has strong flavor and it will be revealed in the end result) or butter and cover it with a slightly wet towel or a plastic wrap and let it aside for 90 minutes till it doubles its size.
- Make sure the place you let the dough is not too hot.
- Repeat the same process for the other half of the dough.
Process for assembling the brioches
Below it is presented a traditional way of making Greek Tsoureki shape.
However, we can avoid this, and we can make a simple shape.
We have -2- bowls with dough.
- We take the dough of one of them and punch it down on a clean working surface.
- Roll the dough in a baguette shape, fold in half and roll again.
- We repeat this process for about 10 times.
- This step will create even more elastic threads in the dough, and it will provide us with a nice, chewy texture at the end.
- In case the dough is too elastic we may add 2-3 tablespoons of flour, however it is better to avoid it in order the dough to keep the high moisture.
- When ready cut the dough in -4 equal sized pieces (to be easier, divide the dough into -2- halves and then divide each in half again).
- Take each piece and shape it into round strip that is about 50 cm long (to have the shape of a baguette).
- Place all -4- strips one next to the other on the working surface, leaving some space between them.
- Take -4- small papers and write down 1-2-3-4.
- Put each paper with the number in front of each strip in order each strip to have its number.
- Connect the tips of all -4- strips from one side.
- And now we will start shaping the braid.
- Fold strip 4 over strip 2.
- Fold strip 1 over strip 3.
- Fold strip 2 over strip 3.
- Repeat this till we have created a whole braid.
- Cut the braid in half to make 2 loaves (if we keep it as one piece, we have to bake it 10-15 min more.
- Transfer carefully the loaf / loaves to a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Follow the same process for the other part of the dough.
- Cover all loaves with a towel and allow them to rise for about 1 hour in a dry, NOT hot place.
- When loaves have double their size, after the 1 hour:
- preheat oven to 200 C (set to fan if case).
- brush the loaves with egg yolk diluted with milk and sprinkle with almond livers or granulated sugar or sesame.
Bake them in 170 C (or 150 C set to fan) for about 40 min or until they take a nice golden brown color.
When ready we remove from oven and allow to totally cool before cutting and serving (if we can resist).