Τσουρέκι / λαμπρόψωμο: symbolizing the resurrection of Christ. The Greek word Lambropsomo is a combination of two words: lambro (Greek: λαμπρό) which means "bright light"; and psomo (Greek: -ψωμο from ψωμί) which means bread: lambropsomo translates to shining-bread or the epiphany-bread, representing the light given to Christians by Christ's resurrection and the passing over from what we are to what Risen Lord wants us to be: "partakers of divine nature". Another name for this is "Λαμπροκουλούρας" Lamprokoulouras, which means the same. This braided bread can be shaped either into a circle or into two large braids and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is adorned with beautiful red Easter eggs and sometimes red rosebuds for decorations. The Easter eggs are dyed deep red to represent the blood of Christ, the eggs also represent new life and springtime. It is traditionally eaten during the Resurrection Meal. After Orthodox Christians' fast, which lasts 40 days to represent Jesus' time in the wilderness and the solar year (amongst other things lasting a long time), the Easter feast has to begin slowly, with a light meal after the midnight Divine Liturgy on Saturday night. The fast is generally broken with magiritsa, an offal-based soup flavored with avgolemono sauce; tsoureki, the fluffy, egg-laden Easter bread, salad and a bowl of red dyed eggs. Greeks have a custom when it comes to the eggs: they crack them one-to-one. Whosever egg remains intact, supposedly has good luck in the ensuing year.This bread recipe was traditionally prepared with an essence drawn from the seeds of Mediterranean wild cherries, called makhlepi, (Greek: μαχλέπι), which makes the kitchen smell delicious. The kernels of the makhlepi cherry spice are loved for specialties like tsoureki, but some people at times may elect to prepare this beautiful bread without the seed essence. Besides mahaleb kernels, the bread can be flavoured with mastic, the resin from Pistacia lentiscus, var. chia which is used in Greek cuisine. In more recent years, vanilla-scented tsoureki has also become quite popular. Sometime tsoureki is used as gifts for special occasion, for instance, it can be given as an Easter gift from children to their godparents.
10 mL Cinnamon
5 Whole Egg Or egg substitute
2500 mL Flour
15 mL Mahlepi Powder
250 mL Milk
1 Pinch Salt To taste
500 mL Sugar May substitute with honey
225 g Sweet Butter
125 mL Water Warm
2 Package Yeast Active dry yeast
In a small saucepan bring the milk to a boil.
Pour it into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, butter, mahlepi, and salt.
Let cool to lukewarm.
Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to lukewarm milk.
Beat 4 eggs and add to the milk mixture.
Gradually stir in flour with a wooden spoon until the batter becomes too thick to stir.
Coat your hands with flour and work in the rest of the flour by hands until a soft, elastic dough forms.
Cover with waxed paper and a thick towel and let stand in a warm place free of drafts for 2 to 3 hours or until the dough doubles in bulk.
Punch down dough and knead again.
Divide the dough into 12 balls about the size of oranges.
Roll each ball on a board into a rope 1.5"x 2" thick and 15"-20" long.
Braid three ropes together to make a "twist."
Pinch ends and tuck under.
Place on greased baking sheets and let rise until twists are doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush the twists with the remaining egg (well-beaten) and bake until tops are a deep chestnut color, about 30 minutes.
Check after 15 minutes, and if the color is darkening too quickly, reduce heat to 275 degrees and continue to bake for 1/2 hour.
Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes and then invert on racks to finish cooling.
Store in covered containers or wrap and keep in the freezer