Paskalya çöreği (Easter bread) is a sweet bread made by Christians of Istanbul, especially Greeks, on Christmas and Easter. It also finds a place in Greek cuisine under the name of Tsoureki. What distinguishes Easter bread from other pastries is mahaleb and gum mastic used as flavoring.
The smell of mahaleb and gum mastic that spreads throughout the house while baking paskalya çöreği makes you want to brew tea. Even though it is simply delicious with the tea, you can’t get enough of it when you add a mixture of tahini and molasses to this duo.
Although paskalya çöreği is made for religious days like roscon de reyes in Spanish cuisine, you can of course also cook them even if it’s not Christmas or Easter. Even better, you can eat one of the them after you have prepared immediately, and freeze the other and store it and defrost it whenever you want within six months and eat it as if you have just baked it.
Fresh yeast is traditionally used in making paskalya çöreği. I recommend sticking to this for the best consistency. But if finding fresh yeast is difficult for you, you can also use instant yeast instead.
The biggest misfortune you can experience while making paskalya çöreği is that the joints are opened too much and look torn. It is normal for this image to occur in a small amount while puffing up, but too much will make them look ugly. It is necessary to strengthen the gluten structure of the dough to get rid of this appearance. For this, you should knead the dough for a long time, stick to the resting durations and use high protein flour.
You get two paskalya çöreği with the ingredients in the recipe. Still, they are large in size and therefore need more time to cook than other pastries. So do not think to take it out of the oven as soon as it is lightly browned, let it bake until it is thoroughly browned or even turned blackish. If you think that the temperature of your oven is high and they get brown faster than normal, continue baking by covering them with greaseproof paper and cutting off direct contact with the heat source. After you remove them from the oven, take them on a rack to cool. Let them get warm before slicing, so that they become doughy.
- 1/2 cup luke warm milk,
- 1/2 cup luke warm water,
- 1 egg
- 75 g soft butter,
- 3/4 cup sugar,
- 25 g of fresh yeast,
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed gum mastic,
- 1 teaspoon of mahaleb,
- 4-4.5 cups flour (preferably high protein).
- 1 egg
- 1 handful of sliced almonds.
- Take water, milk, yeast and sugar in a bowl and mix,
- Add the egg and butter and mix,
- Add mahaleb and gum mastic and mix,
- Add the flour gradually, controlling the consistency of the dough and knead until you get a dough that does not stick to the hand,
- Take the dough on the counter and knead for ten minutes,
- Cover it and let it rest for 45 minutes-1 hour,
- Knead the dough again and divide it into six pieces,
- Cover them and let rest for 20 min. more,
- Press the pieces one by one on the counter with both hands in back and forth movements, and make sticks thick in the middle and this on the edges,
- Braid three sticks together and fold the edges under it,
- Braid the other three sticks with the same method,
- Take them into a baking tray covered with wax paper,
- Cover and let rest for 20 mins.,
- Beat the egg and brush the çöreks with the egg and sprinkle with almonds,
- Bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees until they are browned well.