Make Ahead

Sourdough Tsoureki (Greek Easter sweet bread)

April  4, 2023
1 Ratings
Photo by annabakesinmcr
  • Prep time 36 hours
  • Cook time 35 hours
  • makes 2 loaves
Author Notes

Tsoureki is a braided, usually yeasted, enriched bread, made for Easter. It has milk, eggs, butter, orange zest and spices that make it distinctive. The name probably comes from the Turkish Corek, which means yeasted bread; similar breads exist in Armenia, and in the Balkans, but also in some other European countries. Tsoureki is also considered a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ as the flour 'becomes alive' when being transformed into bread. This recipe for sourdough Tsoureki, has won a Bronze Tiptree World Break Awards, UK in 2022.

What You'll Need
  • 500 grams Strong Bread Flour
  • 300 grams Sweet Stiff Sourdough starter
  • 135 grams Milk (Cold)
  • 160 grams caster sugar
  • 40 grams raw honey
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 130 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (one orange)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon mahleb (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mastic
  • 1 egg yolk for brushing, mixed with a bit of milk
  1. Prepare the sweet stiff starter mixing 50gr 100% hydration starter, 150gr strong bread flour, 70gr water and 30gr caster sugar and leave overnight to proof in ambient temperature.
  2. In the morning, add all the ingredients apart from the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix using the dough hook in low for 5-10 min until you see some gluten development
  3. Then add half of the butter and when fully incorporated add the remaining half and mix for another 5-10 minutes until you have a windopane.
  4. Cover and leave to bulk prove until almost double (from 5 to 12 hours depending on the room temperature).
  5. Refrigerate overnight. Shape 2 and prove 3-4 hours and become puffy, poke to see if ready.. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius and place a bowl with water inside the oven.
  6. Brush with the egg yolk and milk mixture and you can. You can add some almond flakes at the top. Bake for 20min at 170 until it gets a nice golden brown and the 15min at 140 Celcius.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • annabakesinmcr
  • limefroggy
  • RAH
  • Jeana

12 Reviews

limefroggy May 24, 2024
This tsoureki tasted amazing. It made my usual recipe taste bland. It was a bit dense and I'm hoping with practice that will improve
annabakesinmcr May 25, 2024
Make sure that while mixing the dough temperature doesn't exceed 26-27 degrees celcius and let it double when proving in a warm temperature. It could take even 12h. It should be puffy and jiggly after thr second prove.
limefroggy May 26, 2024
Thanks for your reply. Do you use a thermometer to keep check of the temperature of the dough?
After overnight refrigeration (dough had risen well) of the proven dough when I took it out for shaping it became sticky and difficult to handle. Is that normal?
annabakesinmcr May 26, 2024
Yes, I use a thermometer-if it reaches 27 celcius, I will stop for 5 min to let the temperature drop. I use flour on the bench and my hands if it is a bit sticky!
limefroggy May 26, 2024
Thank you so much for y
limefroggy May 26, 2024
Thanks so much for your reply. I'm very happy with the results!
RAH December 27, 2023
Why would you not put the quantities for the stiff starter with the recipe? Be nice to be able to print it out along with the rest of the ingredients
annabakesinmcr December 27, 2023
It's a good point, thank you! I have now added them to the first step.
Jeana April 14, 2023
I have made this tsoureki 3 times and have followed the recipe in every detail and I can't get it to rise. It tastes fantastic but it's very dense and flat. Not sure where the problem is. Perhaps it's my sweet stiff starter.
annabakesinmcr April 15, 2023
So sorry to hear this! You need to be careful with the dough temperature, as the hydration is low, in order to built the gluten structure, it might get too warm. This is why eggs, milk, and butter are all cold from the fridge. Temperature should not exceed 26-27 degrees Celcius. I will add a note to the recipe. For the starter, I make it with 50gr starter, 150 gr flour, 30gr sugar and 70water. After the bulk proof it should be very puffy, giggly with bubbles, and not sticky at all. I hope the above helps.
Jeana April 15, 2023
The butter is cold from the fridge? You mean solid? I will try it again with your starter. And then when I leave it to rise the first time around between 5-12 hours, should the room be warm?
After my failed attempts I've had a look at other sourdough Tsoureki recipes (there are not many!) and they say the room should be warm because this dough is dense and it needs warmth to rise. I am a regular sourdough bread maker and never have any problems. I really want to nail this. Also what speed should the dough hook be on?
annabakesinmcr April 16, 2023
I cut the cold solid butter is small pats. The speed should be 1, so it should be low. It needs warm temperature to rise. I usually leave it close to the oven if I am baking, or you can put it in the oven that is turned off next to a bowl of boiled water so that it's warm and humid.