Gluten-free Greek Easter Buttery Sweet Bread /Brioche (Tsoureki / Τσουρέκι)
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'Tsoureki' (τσουρέκι) is a traditional Greek sweet bread a bit like a brioche or babka, and typically made around Easter time. It's flavoured with orange peel, cardamom spice and the key ingredient mahlab/ mahlepi. Some people also choose to add anise or mastic.
This gluten-free sweet bread is soft and chewy due to the folding of the dough which creates lovely threads and sprinkled with flaked almonds. Best enjoyed straight out the oven. This recipe makes 1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves.
1 Large Loaf
8g (2.5 tsp) active dried yeast
20g (2 Tbsp) caster sugar
150g warm water
20g psyllium husk (rough husk form)
175ml warm organic whole milk (or plant milk)
650g Gluten-free bread flour
30g tapioca starch
2 tsp Greek mahlepi/ malab
zest of 1 orange, organic if possible
8 cardamom pods, seeds ground
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste/powder
100g butter, melted
100g Greek honey
3 +1 large eggs (165g), room temperature
20g almond slivers, to decorate (optional for nut free)
In a small bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar and 150g warm water (no hotter than 38ºC/100ºF or else it will kill the yeast). Set aside for 10 minutes, until the mixture starts to froth.
In another small bowl, mix together the psyllium husk and 175g warm milk. This will turn into a thick gel after a few minutes.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, add the bread flour, tapicoa starch, salt until well combined.
On medium speed, add the yeast mixture and psyllium gel to the dry ingredients. Mix the dough for a few minutes until everything comes together.
Next, add in 3 eggs, melted butter, honey, orange zest, crushed cardamom seeds, vanilla and mahlepi, mix for about 5 minutes until smooth and a ball begins to form.
If you want the sweet bread even sweeter, add an additional 50g of coconut sugar or granulated sugar.
Form into a ball, cover bowl with a damp tea towel (or I find a clean shower cap works very well) and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or so until it has doubled in size.
Prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
When ready, gather the dough and place onto a floured surface. Roll into a baguette shape, then fold in half and roll it again. (Every gluten free-bread flour is slightly different, so if the dough is too thin, add 2-3Tbsp of flour until it thickens and you can handle it better.)
Repeat this rolling and folding process 5-7 times. (It's necessary to do this as it gives structure to the dough and ultimately a nice, chewy texture.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Roll and shape each piece into a long rope and place them in a vertical row, leaving a little space between them and start by connecting the top ends together.
Number the ropes 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. And begin to braid the dough ropes.
Fold rope 4 over rope 2.
Rope 1 over rope 3.
Rope 2 over rope 3.
Repeat this process until the braid is complete and beautiful!
Option to cut the braid in half to make 2 loaves, or leave it whole, (it just may need a little longer baking).
Transfer the braid to the prepared baking tray.
Beat the remaining egg and brush the entire bread with the egg wash.
Sprinkle with almond slivers (omit if nut free, and sub with sesame seeds or you can leave plain and drizzle with dark chocolate once baked).
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
Put aside for 20-30 minutes so it can rest and rise again.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through and the top is a golden caramel colour.
This sweet bread is best eaten within 3 days, or equally slice it before freezing and have it when you like!
SERVE THIS WITH.
Toasted with Butter
Psyllium husk - acts as prebiotic in the gut, feeding the good bacteria in the microbiome. (Source)
Whole milk (organic) - contains a wide array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. (Source)
Tapioca starch - is good for its resistant starch content which may offer some digestive benefits. (Source)
Greek mahlepi/ malab / mahleb - is a fragrant spice made from the ground pits of a sour cherry. It’s used in small quantities to sharpen baked goods and adds a distinct cherry / almond flavour. (Source)
Orange - rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, calcium and other essential nutrients. (Source)
Cardamom - contains phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties and traditionally used to help boost digestive health and treat gastrointestinal issues.(Source)
Greek honey - is nutritionally dense and filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. (Source)
Eggs (organic) - are incredibly nutritious, a great source of protein, healthy fats and they help elevate levels of HDL (the "good") cholesterol, which is linked to a lower risk of many diseases.(Source)
Almonds - high in protein and fibre and are an excellent source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E. (Source)
HAVE YOU MADE THIS?
Many of my recipes call for Greek products like Greek extra virgin olive oil, Greek honey or Greek oregano. It is not mandatory for it to be Greek in order to make the recipe, you are more than welcome to use a good quality alternative; just keep in mind if you are after the authentic flavours of Greece these details do make all the difference in Greek cuisine. You can shop these ingredients here.
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Disclaimer: None of the health benefits listed are intended to diagnose or treat any pre-existing health conditions. Always consult a health care practitioner before making any health decisions. The benefits listed are from my own research and personal interest, and encourage you to follow the Source and do further research.