I have always been fascinated how flat breads are a world wide phenomena one way or another. Practically every culture has their own version of it, whether it is leavened or unleavened. Mexican tortillas are particularly interesting because of their fusion between the Old World and New World. Thanks to the discovery of America, Europe was introduced to corn based tortillas and they in return introduced wheat based ones to America when settlers started to grow wheat. What I wasn’t entirely aware of is the process that goes into producing/making corn based masa harina. Continue reading Tortillas
These days it is possible to find Tsourekis all year round, a traditional Greek Easter Bread prepared on Holy Thursday and served Easter Sunday to celebrate the breaking of Lent.
Many families have their own special recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next – one of the best things when it comes to traditional recipes. Godparents in Greece will gift these to their Godchildren and vice versa.
Traditionally the preparation of Easter Tsoureki will begin on Holy Thursday. The eggs will be dyed on that day and the dough will be made and baked in readiness for Sunday. I love Tsoureki and I only became familiar with it since I’ve lived in the Riverland where we have and extensive Greek community. It all started when I became curious about certain spices that suddenly appeared in our local supermarket during Easter: Mahlepi & Mastika (I wrote about these a few blogs ago). These are the key ingredients in a Tsoureki and it is said that:
without these ingredients a “Tsoureki would not be a Tsoureki”
I have also been told that the aroma of these special ingredients will evoke nostalgic tears into the eyes of some. There are other spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed and fennel that are used on occasion. I’ve even noticed cardamom and the use of bay leaf in some but I’m not sure how traditional this would be. Perhaps such ingredients are the secret ingredients used in the variations of different family recipes…
Dyeing eggs is a big Easter tradition in many countries, and during Easter the emergence of different egg dyes is also very noticeable at our local supermarket. In a Tsoureki, red eggs are embedded into the dough to commemorate the blood of Christ. The colour red also represents life and the egg is a symbol for the renewal of life. The Greeks also refer to Holy Thursday as: “Red Thursday” in reference to eggs being dyed red that day.
Tsourekis are braided either in a log form or into a circular ring, as the latter is a symbol of eternity and the renewal of life. Three braids are used in the braiding, along with three eggs because this represents the Holy Trinity.
The origin of Tsoureki breads in Greece possibly started during the Turkish Ottoman occupation approximately 400 years ago. The word Tsoureki is derived from the Turkish word “corek”, which means bread made with yeast, who baked similar breads, both savoury and sweet, in various shapes and sizes. The Greeks adopted these by making their own version with eggs, butter and milk. These types of breads are also known as “Labropsomo” and “Labrokouloro”. During Byzantine times they were called “Kollyrides”, another special bread made during Easter with an egg placed in the middle.
Tsoureki dough can be prepared the night before, as the dough will benefit from an overnight ferment, allowing those delicious spice flavours to develop. Once the bread has been braided and shaped the next day, the dough will then have its second rising whilst the oven heats up. The amount of eggs, butter and milk in the recipe will help keep the dough soft and moist, perfect for Sunday when the celebrations begin.
If you would like my version on how to make a Tsoureki you can contact me via Flour-and-Spice and I will email you my pdf version for the recipe. To discover how to make your own you can also join my classes at the Chaffey Community Centre (to book call 8586 5745) or book me and I will show you how to make it in your very own oven! – If you get in touch in time I’m also happy to make them to order, just drop me a line via Flour-and-Spice
HAPPY GREEK EASTER EVERYONE & HAPPY FLOUR POWER!
Tia, your BreadCoach
I like baking with spelt which is an ancient grain increasing in popularity around the world. Contrary to some popular belief, spelt is not “gluten free”, it simply has a different genetic makeup to normal wheat. However, it does appears to be a lot kinder to the gut. This is true especially when it is allowed to go through a proper long fermentation process using natural levain. It has a lovely nutty flavour when baked, the crust gets nicely caramelized with a chocolaty colour. So what else is there to know about spelt… Continue reading “S”spells Spelt
Who was Johan Ludvig Runeberg and what is Runeberg Torte?
The 5th of January is a national flag day in Finland which celebrates Runeberg’s Birthday. Why am I writing about this? Well there is something yummy that is made available for this celebration that involves baking. Bakeries and patisseries around Finland, roughly not long after New Year start to produce and sell Runeberg Torte, the sales of which culminate on the 5th of February, after which they disappear again until the following year.
I thought it would be fun to delve into the history of the torte and to Who was Johan Ludvig Runeberg? Current younger generations of Finns are perfectly aware of Runeberg Torte and that they are in season from the beginning of the new year until the 5th of February but often not much more…..
This is what I discovered Continue reading Ever heard of Runeberg Torte?
You may or may not have heard of Teff flour – I have on and off, but wasn’t quite sure what it was or where it came from – so I decided to do a little investigation
TEFF is an ancient grain and one of the smallest grains found in Ethiopia. Imagine: it takes about 150 Teff seeds to equal the weight of a single wheat kernel. It is the main ingredient used to make Injera flat bread.
Reasons Teff flour is starting to trend on a global basis:
Grandma could never stress the following 4 things enough when baking bread.
It really helps to know and understand the following:
Back in October I spent an amazing night with an artisan baker who toils his trade 3x a week up in the Pyrenean mountains. Our rendez-vous was at midnight and I spent the night pretty much watching him perform his craft from beginning to end. Continue reading Spending the night with an Artisan Baker
Mother’s Day: An annual event either the 2nd Sunday in May but also 4th Sunday in Lent
Mothers have been honoured since ancient times traditional. However, it is a relatively recent phenomenon that there is a specific day assigned to Mother’s Day annually now. This was thanks to a campaign initiated by Continue reading Do you celebrate Mother’s Day with baked goods?
Although a hybrid developed by man, Triticale (Tricosecate) has been around for well over a century. It was first bred around 1845 in the northern hemisphere both in Sweden and Scotland. Basically it is a cross between wheat & rye giving it a combination Continue reading GRAINS: “T” IS FOR TRITICALE
There really is no “one” particular type of starter in the production of natural leaven agents.
Every baker appears to have their own particular philosophy and way of creating one as I discovered during my artisan baking course adventure in Barcelona. In fact, each Master Baker there had their own special way of creating their natural leavening agent.
Levels of hydration and flour content were also totally variable between these Master Bakers! One favoured liquid levain, whereas another preferred a more firmer version and then there was what I would call the in between ones! What was even more fascinating, each baker had a different way of maintaining their starter. This is where in principle the fermentation idea is the same but different nationalities have their own preferred method of making/maintaining one. Whilst in Barcelona, I experienced Catalan, French, Italian and Finnish natural leavening agents, each different like night and day from each other! The one that was totally new to me was: Continue reading Baking Ruminations from Barcelona – Lievito Madre & Ezio Marinato