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Greek Easter Bread with Yaya

Greek Easter bread is a semisweet dense bread decorated with brilliant red hard boiled eggs rubbed with olive oil. It’s a beloved family tradition that we enjoy each year.

Greek Easter Bread with Yaya

This Greek Easter bread is one of the most eagerly anticipated sweet treats of the year at our house. For over 20 plus years, the week before Greek Easter has  been filled with days spent in the kitchen making cookies, dolmades, spanakopita and of course the beloved Easter bread. My Greek mother-in-law takes the traditional Greek food very seriously when it comes to the holidays and for that I am grateful. My girls have grown up watching Yaya create her magic in the kitchen which always includes beautiful stories from days gone past. Aside from learning about Yaya’s cooking and baking techniques, we walk away from our time spent together, hearts wrapped in a warm blanket of memories that was woven from spending time in the kitchen together. That’s what food and family is all about isn’t it?

Tsoureki is the Greek word for Greek Easter bread. I spent a lovely afternoon making and baking this delicious bread with Yaya (my mother-in-law) laughing and telling stories and I just had to share this special tradition with all of you. ThisEaster bread is a semisweet bread that is pleasingly light yet pleasingly dense once it meets your mouth and is the perfect pairing alongside a pipping hot cup of coffee. It is something that we all look forward to sinking our teeth into each and every spring on Easter day.

One of the key ingredients to this semisweet bread is a spice called, Mahlepi. You can find this spice at your local Mediterranean grocery store (sometimes called Mahlab).

This is what it looks like…

Greek Easter Bread with Yaya

You’ll want to grind the seeds until it becomes a fine flour-like consistency like this…

Greek Easter Bread with Yaya

This unusual spice is a wonderfully warm cinnamony nutmeggy slightly nutty spice that is the undertone flavor in this marvelous bread.

Once you mix all of the lovely ingredients in a large bowl by hand, including the fresh zest of lemons and oranges, you’re kitchen will smell divine.

The dough will look like this…

Greek Easter Bread with Yaya

Don’t worry about the melted butter pooling around the sides it will absorb as the bread sits in a warm place to rise.

Meet Yaya…

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

she is beyond giddy about how beautifully the bread has come together.

Once mixed, the dough should be covered with plastic wrap that is actually tucked down in and touching the dough. Then wrap towels around the entire bowl and put it in a warm place for a couple of hours.

Greek Easter Bread with Yaya

Our dough was ready much faster than usual. After an hour and a half of chatting while drinking coffee and munching on paximathakia our dough had risen.

The bowl of dough should look like this when it’s ready…

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

You could hear angels singing and Yaya too. She was like a little school girl swirling around the kitchen while explaining to me that the secret of making “good dough” is the happiness that you have in your heart while making it. I wholeheartedly agree. A happy heart makes happy food.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured counter and divide the dough into four equal parts. Then separate each of the four parts into three pieces and roll the dough with your hands into approximately 14 inch long and about finger thickness.

reek Easter Bread With Yaya

Braid the three long cylinder pieces just like you would braid hair. It should look like this…

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

Then place the braid into a round pan that is lined with wax paper.

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

Then let that rise again, covered and placed in a warm spot. This should take about 30-45 minutes.

I would recommend a little dancing and singing to expedite the process. It worked for us!

Once the dough looks nice and plump like this…

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

Brush the dough with a mixture of beaten egg, vanilla and water. Then place in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes until it looks like this…

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

Once the bread has cooled, cut out the center of the bread and place a red dyed hard boiled egg inside.

And there you have a traditional loaf of Greek Easter bread.

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

Help yourself to a slice of the beautiful bread, pour a cup of coffee and exclaim Xristos Anesti (Christ Has Risen)!

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

Just like the beautiful bread.

Greek Easter Bread With Yaya

I’ve shared some mouthwatering Greek recipes with you in the past. Here are a few fav’s ::

Wishing you a marvelous and blessed Easter.

~Wenderly

Here’s the delicious recipe –

Originally published April 6, 2012

By Wenderly

Married my soulmate. Mama of 2. Love to inspire. Can't help but to relish in all things beautiful inside & out. Join me in Savoring the Art of Living.

31 replies on “Greek Easter Bread with Yaya”

Love the picture of your Yaya and I love her belief that the happiness you have in your heart while making it is the secret to good dough. I think that applies to all baking 🙂 Beautiful Easter Bread and a very sweet post. Xristos Anesti! just like the bread. Love it! Happy Easter to you and your family.

How beautiful and fun! Maybe that’s what I’ve been missing all these years with bread making, the happiness in my heart while making it. I’m always a nervous ninny when yeast is involved. Perhaps chilling out a little and adding in some singing and dancing would be a much better way to bake?

P.S. I wish I had a Yaya too. Can I borrow yours sometime?

I love, love, love this post! Beautiful bread, beautiful Yaya, beautiful you! My sister, who lived in Romania for a couple years, was just telling about the Easter eggs being dyed red, for the blood of Christ. I’m assuming it’s the same thing in Greece then? Do they only use the red dye, too? Hope you and your family had a very lovely Easter!

Hi Brenda!

Yes! The red eggs represent the blood of Christ in Greece as well. We did have a lovely Easter and are getting ready for Greek Easter this coming Sunday. (We always get to celebrate 2 Easter’s at our house! ) Hope you had a wonderful Easter too!

Xristos Anesti! Hope you had two great Easters. The bread looks fabulous. I’ve never heard of the mahlab/mahlepi before but it sounds so Intriguing! Can’t wait to try to find it and depending on what I find out and taste may have to try to grow it! Thanks!!

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe…I tried my hand at making Tsoureki for the first time yesterday and it turned out amazing, I am so glad that I chose your Yaiya’s recipe! Thank you to your Yaiya as well.
Xristos Anesti!!

This Easter bread looks lovely. I was wondering if there is a substitute for mahlepi? I live in Australia and I’ve never seen this spice here. Thank you for sharing these lovely recipes with us 🙂

Thank you and Yaya for this recipe and the pictures. We had Greek Easter in 2012 serendipitously in Chicago’s Greektown and since then I’ve been wanting to try to make the wonderful bread we had that day. Finally this year (2017) I did, thanks to you and Yaya. I was able to get the mahlepi at a mediterranean grocery in the Chicago suburbs (they had both the seeds and freshly ground). I will make this again at Easter. It is even better than what I remembered having back in 2012 at the Greek restaurant.

So what's on YOUR mind?