Easter is just around the corner. Traditional meals include a ham or roast of lamb alongside deviled eggs and hot cross buns, but there are many festive dishes that make a great substitution for the common standbys. Tsoureki is a Greek dish that is served during the Easter holiday.
The dense, slightly sweet dough enriched with eggs is similar to Jewish challah, French brioche and Croatian badnji kruh. With tsoureki, whole eggs are tucked into the braided ring of bread dough, and the finished loaf is served sliced in place of rolls or sliced bread. Some prefer to toast their tsoureki and smother it with marmalade.
The original recipe calls for the eggs to be bright red to signify the blood of Christ, renewal and rebirth. To make the deep red color of traditional tsoureki eggs, a dye is made from the skins of yellow onions and vinegar.
However, substituting festive Easter pellet dyes in a variety of pastel shades turns this bread into an instant American classic. The eggs are cooked as the bread bakes: Shells must be dyed before they are tucked into the loaf.
Rinsing the eggs thoroughly after dying helps to ensure that the colors do not bleed into the bread and ruin the stunning presentation of this dish. Dye colors may fade in the oven, but brushing the finished eggs with butter will quickly revive them.
Leftover Tsoureki makes phenomenal French toast or bread pudding, a bonus incentive for a baker with a sweet tooth. Diced tsoureki tossed with butter, cinnamon and sugar and baked on high heat makes sweet croutons that add a delicious crunch to chocolate soup. Celebrate spring with this beautiful braided bread and impress family members and guests with dinner, breakfast or dessert.
An alternative to baking a tsoureki loaf is to purchase one. There will be a Greek Easter Bread and Pastry Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, located at 1001 E. Wyomissing Boulevard, across from Berks Catholic High School.