Tsoureki – Traditional Greek Easter Bread (looks like Swiss Zopf, tastes different)

 

It is Greek Orthodox Easter this weekend! And traditionally, people eat Tsoureki, and of course lots of other culinary delights. The amazing fact about Tsoureki is, that you can keep it for a week and it won’t dry out.

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For a loaf of about 600 g:
500 g white flour type 405 or 505
100 g sugar
20 g fresh yeast
125 ml fresh milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of ground Mastika
1 teaspoon of aniseed
Grated zest of a lemon
50 g butter
Vanillaseeds

Egg yolk and milk
Optional: almond flakes

Put the flour in a bowl and make a hole, add the yeast and milk and let rest until the yeast has dissolved. Add all the remaining ingredients and knead well, add flour if the dough remains too sticky. Let rest for 45 mins in a warm place.
Knead a few more minutes, adding flour if needed.
Cut the dough in two parts, roll each one into equally thick strips of about 50cm, then braid them. Let rest again for 20 mins. Meanwhile heat the oven to 200c.

Mix the egg yolk and milk and brush over the loaf. Add almonds if you want. Bake for about 45 minutes. Traditionally, a hard boiled egg, colored red is placed on the loaf as well prior to baking. I skipped that part as I had no more eggs left:-)

Some recipes mention also to pour a syrup over the hot loaf, you may do that, for me, it is sweet enough as it is.

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Kαλό Πάσχα

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Greece in a glass

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During our recent trip to Greece, we had the opportunity to meet a passionate wine maker who runs a family wine estate close to Athens in Mesogaia, on the Attica Peninsula. Thanks to our friend Giorgio, a Swiss National who moved to Greece for work a few years ago, we met Vassili Papagiannakos in his beautiful domaine.
Vassili welcomed us with open arms and showed us his estate and the production site which is a very modern, state-of-the-art production line where he and his team produce about 200’000 bottles a year. Most of the products are white wines, complemented by Rosé and Reds.

Vassili took over the winery as the 3rd generation from his grandfather and father and invested in latest technologies, actually they are the first winery in Greece designed and built according to innovative bioclimatic standards in order to produce world-class wine. Various awards are the proof that the Domaine Papagiannakos wines are outstanding.
Vassilli explained that the terroir where his grapes grow is very unique. The soil is a combination of clay, sand and gravel, and the climate is perfect, 320 days of sunshine, no rain from June to October, mild winds and being surrounded by the sea are all favorable factors.
When you think of Greek Wines, I am sure that Retsina comes to your mind and you lift your eyebrows in disbelieve that Greek Wine could taste better than this petrol-flavoured liquid! Believe me, Greece has come a long way and modern Greek Wines do no longer have to shun competition from Italy, Spain etc.
I enjoy especially the white wines as they are making me dream of the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea, the hospitality of the Greeks and the wonderful nature!

We were invited to taste all of the Estate’s wines, here is a selection of them:
Kalogeri, made with 100% Malagouza grapes is a dry white wine, very fruitful and balanced. I would recommend it with seafood or fish/poultry.
Savatiano Papagiannakos is made with 100% Savatiano grapes, again a dry white wine with medium acidity, it has aromas of citrus fruit and is a perfect match with seafood, or just as is, to enjy and dream of Greece!
The Vareli, also made of 100% Savatiano grapes, in addition to fermenting in steel tanks, ages 6 months in oak barrels, a very complex wine, with aromas of wood, spices and citrus fruit.
It has very balanced flavours and is my favorite of the white wines we tasted.
This wine for me is Greece in a glass!
Vassilli also produces a Rosé, made of 100% Muscat de Hamburg; it has an aromatic bouquet of flowers and pomegranate. For people who like a chilled Rosé it is certainly worth trying it.

Then we moved on to the reds:
My favorite red is the Kalogeri, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. After the fermentation in stainless steel tanks, it is aged for 14 months in new french oak barrels. The deep ruby colour and complex bouquet of ripe red fruit, spices and vanilla make it a pure pleasure to drink. It is a wine that complements rich food, but is certainly also a wine that can be enjoyed without food, on a terrasse, marvelling at the sea!

To end the tasting, we were offered a glass of the Melias, a sweet white wine made from 100% Malagouzia grapes. It is a dessert wine with a taste of honey and ripe pineapples. For the boys, it was too sweet, for me, it was just perfect and I would either serve it with blue cheese or with dry bisquits such as Cantucci.

We had a fantastic time with Vassili and Giorgio and hope we can make the Papagiannakos’ Winery better known in our country and help to improve the image of Greek wines outside of Greece.
Efcharisto’ poli for the hospitality Vassili!