How do you improve on a classic?
You don't! (Mind you, this is advice I don't always follow myself).
You enhance it and bring out its better qualities.
Tsoureki has always been one of my favourite treats at Easter time. I find it's brioche like flavour addictive. Especially when it's lightly toasted and smothered with some kind of home made jam or marmalade.
But here's the thing.
In the Northern hemisphere Easter falls during spring time. Spring time is the time of rebirth and rejuvenation. The weather is starting to get warmer and the religious significance of the holiday fits into this theme too.
However what about us on the other side of the world?
This is where my thinking for today's recipe comes into play. It's Autumn here. The weather is slighly cooler and the nights just that little bit "crisper".
When I set out to make my tsourekia this year, I wanted to incorporate seasonal ingredients. Like I said I 'm not trying to reinvent the Greek wheel here. Just adding to something that is more suited to my environment.
The original recipe already has orange juice and zest so I thought it would work beautifully with pumpkin and a dash of cardamom. This is a Holy Trinity in itself, if you'll excuse the pun!
Pumpkin is just starting to show up at the markets and I have to say I was quite happy with the way the altered recipe worked.
The pumpkin added an extra level of sweetness and the cardamom gave it just the right amount of heat and earthiness. Combined with the freshness of the orange this was a match made in heaven! (Geez! I'm all with the puns tonight!).
I hope this gets the "Greek mother tick of approval"!
Best wishes to all those celebrating Easter this Sunday.
TSOUREKI RECIPE (with pumpkin and cardamom)
Makes 4 loaves
- 250ml of milk
- 80g of unsalted butter
- 950g of plain flour
- 1 packet of instant dried yeast
- 1tsp of salt
- zest of 1 grated orange
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 cup mashed pumpkin
- 3/4 cup of caster sugar
- 1/2 a cup of orange juice
- 3 eggs
For the glaze:
- 1 egg yolk
- a splash of milk
- Warm the milk in a saucepan over a very low heat. Add the butter stirring it into the milk so it will melt. Allow to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl place 100 grams of the flour with the yeast, salt, orange zest, ground cardamom and a tbsp of the sugar.
- Pour in the cooled milk/butter mixture in and beat with a wooden spoon to obtain a lovely batter.
- Cover with saran (plastic) wrap and a towel and leave it for about half an hour.
- When you return you should have a lovely bubbly mixture. Place in the remaining flour, sugar, orange juice, mashed pumpkin and eggs.
- Mix until you have a lovely soft dough. If you find its sticky add more flour. But be careful not to add too much. We're after an elastic, silky dough. Knead for 5 mins.
- Once kneaded place in an oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough. (Cover with saran wrap and a few tea towels and leave it to proof for approx. 1 hour).
- When you notice it has doubled take it out and divide the mixture into quaters. Divide each quarter into three equal portions measuring 20cm and shape these three portions into "ropes". Form a plait, tucking the ends in underneath on the top and bottom. (Pop a dyed egg into the top if using).
- Repeat with the remaining dough forming traditional or round loaves
- Brush with the egg yolk/milk glaze
- Bake in a 180 deg C pre heated oven for about 25 mins. They should be golden and sound hollow when you tap them underneath.
- Allow to cool on wire racks before serving