Greek Sweet Bread (Tsoureki)

My friend Kostas retired and discovered cookery.

He bought a super-dooper mixer, got a pasta making machine and off he went!

During this journey of discovery he put on a bit of weight and realised that he couldn’t eat what he had created any more. Not because it wasn’t tasty-no, the opposite, because it was!

The thing was that Kostas was a geek, a nerd. Once a nerd, always a nerd…. A bit like, once a leftie…

So starting out with wanting all the computers to be the best and as perfect as they could be, he wanted the recipes he made to be the best and the most perfect they could he started to improve all his recipes.

He started to make Tsourekia (Greek Sweet Breads)..they were great..but not in his opinion..he wanted them to be the best Tsourekia in the world ..he started changing one ingredient after the other so in the end he made something quite different altogether.

He started using inverted sugar syrup to be sure that his Tsourekia would be moist and the best in the world….

I had been through the same process myself years before.. when trying different recipes for Tsourekia years ago I had arrived at the point where I had no idea which Tsourekia went with which recipe.. I had lost the plot as they say…

Not just that but I believed that the best recipe for Tsourekia had been lost in the process…

This year I thought I would do something different.

I would find a simple recipe to make Tsourekia…so simple and easy that anyone could make it..even those who had no idea how to make it at all.

I started off with a Jewish bread called Tsalah which is the Jewish version of Tsourekia… an enriched dough with eggs and milk like our Tsourekia…and I researched to see if this dough would work without kneading.

 Bread without kneading already exists and it is I thought I would find a similar recipe for Tsourekia.

I found one..without sugar but with honey..and without the traditional  Mastic (a gum from the island of Chios)..because I personally don’t like it that much.. I like the addition of orange peel so I added that.

I also added orange honey from Yannis of the finest orange honeys I have ever tried. I will write about Yannis Kampouris another time as it’s worth learning about him and his products.

His honey and his oil..His orange honey is like pure gold…anyway let’s get back to the Tsourekia…

So, these Tsourekia won’t tire out your hands kneading.. they will be made wonderfully and tasty without the need to knead. They do need a little patience, to rest the dough to rise and swell caused by the gluten in the flour. For that reason the dough should stay in the fridge overnight ideally.. take the dough out of the fridge the next day and once fashioned into loaves the dough should be allowed to swell at room temperature before baking.

So try it….

Like Kostas, they won’t be the perfect Tsourekia…but you won’t end up using inverted sugar syrup for these.. you could instead go for a nice walk….

Diffuculty: 1 of 3
Duration:15 mins prep, 25 mins baking, 10 hours waiting time
Serves:4 500gr each Tsourekia


400 ml Luke-warm water (NOT hot)

2 packets of dry yeast (14gr)

1 tsp Salt

3 large eggs and I extra for egg washing the pastry

60 ml of full cream milk

180 gr flower honey (Orange) E-LA-WON

125 gr melted butter

7 gr ground cardamon 

I tsp of vanilla 

I tsp of orange peel

800 gr flour for Tsourekia or all purpose and a bit extra for the rolling of the dough into loaves.

Sliced almonds


In a bowl that will fit in the fridge add the luke warm water.

Add the yeast and the salt.

Beat the eggs a little and add them as well as the honey and milk.

Melt the butter and let it cool before adding to the mixture.

At the end put in the orange peel or whatever aromatic you wish- if 

you want to add mastic gum do so.

Mix well with a whisk to blend all the ingredients together.

Add the flour and mix that in as well.

The dough will be very wet. We DO NOT add any more flour!!!! 

Don’t believe that this mixture is not a dough..that’s how it should be..

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours

The yeast will cause the dough to continue to rise.. this is normal.. don’t get anxious about it..

After two hours deflate the dough by placing pre-floured hands on it.

Cover the bowl again and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours but it would be better overnight.

Sprinkle LOADS of flour on your counter top and empty the dough from the bowl on top of it.

Sprinkle yet more flour on top of the dough.

Form the dough into a ball and then flatten with the palm of your hand lightly.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces (like making a cross)

This should make approximately four 1/2 kilo pieces.

Place three of the pieces back in the bowl and sprinkle the one piece left with more flour.

With the piece you have on the counter fold it over on itself four times and then make it into a ball.

Cut the dough with a knife into three even pieces.

Take each piece and form a roll of approximately 15 cms

Place each roll of dough side by side on a piece of grease proof paper. Start from the middle outwards to plait the rolls of dough and then tuck the ends in under the plait.

Leave the plaited dough to swell for half an hour.

Turn on the fan forced oven to 180c.

Put a shallow oven proof bowl of water on the floor of the oven.

Beat the last egg and paint the egg wash over the dough.

Sprinkle the almond slices over the dough and bake for 25 mins.

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