Today’s recipe is a sweet bread made during Easter in Greece, Turkey, and Armenia. It’s a braided bread and uses two unique Greek ingredients, Mahlab and Gum Mastic. Its aroma is enriched not only with these, but also orange zest and cinnamon. What makes it more beautiful is that traditionally the bread is decorated with coloured eggs on top!
It was my first time using Mahlab and I loved the taste and aroma it gives to the bread, together with the orange zest. Enjoy baking and eating it!! 😀
- 500 g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 7 g (1 packet) fast-action yeast
- 10g salt
- 60 g butter, softened
- 75 g caster sugar
- pinch gum mastic powder (Note 1)
- Pinch of mahlab (Note 2)
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1 orange, zest only
- 150ml oz warm water
- 150ml milk
- Handful of sultanas
- 3 eggs, hardboiled in their shells, coloured (Note 3)
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
1- Put flour, yeast, salt, butter, sugar, mastic powder, mahlab, cinnamon, and orange zest into a large bowl.
2- Pour in half the water and milk and mix together briefly, then keep adding the liquid and mixing until all ingredients are mixed through.
3- Mix the sultanas through the dough.
4- Put the mixture into a lightly floured surface and knead of a few minutes until the dough is not sticky anymore.
5- Rest the dough, covered in a warm place, for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge, until the dough is doubled in size.
6- Divide the dough into three parts.
7- Roll into three strands.
8- Braid the strips together, place on the baking tray and leave to rise for another hour, or until doubled in size.
9- Make the braid into a wreath and place it on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
10- I put a small oven-safe bowl in the middle of wreath to preserve the shape of the dough while baking.
11- Brush the top of the bread with egg wash and push the coloured eggs into the bread.
12- Bake the bread in oven at 210C for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Enjoy!! ~~~ ❤
Note 1- Gum Mastic Powder: Is used in Greek cooking. I found Gum Mastic crystals in a Greek delicatessen. To get into powder form, I put them in my Ninja blender and blended it for a minute or two.
Note 2- Mahlab (also called mechlebe or mahlepi): A spice made from ground cherry stones is used in Greek cooking, and also can be easily found in any Greek delicatessen.
Note 3- Coloring Eggs: I used the egg colouring packs that are sold during Easter time in the same Greek delicatessen I found the gum mastic crystals and the mahlab. You can also use red food colouring to colour your eggs.