Tsoureki -- Greek Brioche
½ cup milk, lukewarm
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 to 4½ cups bread flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground mahlepi
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground mastic gum
¾ cup lukewarm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
Zest of one orange
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 egg yolks plus 2-4 tablespoons milk
Combine the starter ingredients together in the bowl of a tabletop mixer. Whisk and set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It is ready when a puffy cloud forms above the mixture.
In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix well to combine.
Combine warm milk, eggs, orange zest and vanilla extract in a large measuring cup, or bowl.
Once the yeast is activated, add both dry and wet ingredients to the mixer's bowl. With paddle attachment, mix until only combined.
Replace the paddle with the dough hook and turn mixer on low, kneading for 8 minutes. Dough will be wet.
Add the softened butter and increase the speed to medium (4 on a Kitchen aid) and knead for 2 minutes.
Spray large bowl with cooking spray, or brush lightly with oil, and transfer dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free place until doubled in volume. About 1½ to 2 hours.*
Punch down the dough to remove the air. Cut into 2 equal portions. Cut each of these portions in thirds. (Total of six.) Roll each portion into about 13-inch long ropes. Form the 3 ropes into a braid and do the same with the remaining three ropes to shape 2 loaves of brioche. Optional: Place a hard-boiled, dyed egg in the braids.
Place loaves onto parchment-lined 18 x13-inch baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap, or clean towel, and allow to rise 30-40 minutes, or until puffy. Dough will not double in size this time.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brush the tops of the brioche dough with the egg wash. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Once baked and cooled, the bread can be frozen up to a month. Just make sure to wrap it well with plastic wrap.
*Quick rise tip: Dimitra shares these tips on her website:
Her favorite place to keep the dough so that it rises quickly is in the dryer. Here is what she does: Place 3-4 clean bath towels in the dryer and turn it on (high heat setting) for about 5-6 minutes. Place the bowl with the dough into the dryer (on top of the warm towels) and close the door. Make sure the dryer is off. Remove from the dryer when dough has doubled in volume. This trick usually cuts 30 minutes from the rise time.
Makes 2 loaves
Recipe source: dimitrasdishes.com/tsoureki-greek-brioche/