Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cardamom Hippie Tsoureki: τσουρέκι κάρδαμο τoυ Hippie

Tsoureki or τσουρέκι is one of my favorite breads. It's ideally eaten in the morning or post siesta with coffee or milk Loaves of this glorious bread are usually bursting out of any local fourno or bakery in Greece, but living in non Greek communities with non Greek bakeries I have been making it myself. It's an egg-rich bread with an enchanting scent that can be compared to the Jewish Challah bread except tsoureki contains the magical spices of μαχλέπι or Mahleb (dried cherry kernel) and  μαστίχα or Mastiha (dried pine resin). A new favorite version of mine has been one made with a heavy hand of cardamom with a hemp seed swirl. The aromatic fragrance and gingery-pepper essence of cardamom combined with the mellow nutty flavor of the hemp seeds (plus hemp seeds provide all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life) is a perfect combination. Or maybe it's a West Coast thing?

The one thing I can tell you is that I made this one and a dark chocolate tsoureki at the same time and everyone preferred the cardamom hippie tsoureki over the chocolate version. Go figure. Cardamom and hemp seed are magical.

Recipe from About.com: Greek Food
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) of dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk
  • 8 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 level teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mastiha
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon mahleb
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds
  • baking parchment paper
  • butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of water
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and mix until fully combined. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour.

Beat egg whites and salt to the stiff peak stage.
Beat together egg yolks and sugar and add to the yeast mixture and beat well. Beat in melted butter, remaining 1/2 cup of milk, ground mastiha, mahleb, and cardamom. Stir in egg whites to distribute thoroughly. Add flour slowly, mixing or kneading with hands until each addition is completely mixed in. The dough should be very dense, but don't use all the flour if not needed.
Form the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover with a clean towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about 3 hours, until doubled in size.
Poke the dough with fingers to deflate (do not "punch down") and knead for 5 minutes. Knead in extra hemp seeds if desired.  Form into one or two round loaves and place in one large or two smaller round baking pans lined with buttered baking parchment paper. Cover with clean towels, set in a warm place, and allow to rise for 2 hours more, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
With a fork, beat together the egg yolk and water, and brush the top of the loaf (or loaves) with this egg wash. Sprinkle hemp seeds on top. Bake at 350°F (190°C) for 30 to 40 minutes, until dark golden.


Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

I love your individual "West Coast take" on traditional Greek dishes Anna...hemp seeds...mmmm!

Banana Wonder said...

Peter - aka Mr. G, thanks, gotta work with what I got over here!

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

Anna, do you know where I can get some fresh cardamom around here?

Banana Wonder said...

Mom - In the spice cupboard, way up top ;) Left the rest for you :)

Helen said...

I'm impressed that you make tsoureki, Anna!! I've never tackled anything that uses yeast before. Tsoureki is something I gradually grew to enjoy as an adult but as a kid I really disliked the way it smelled! It had a sweaty smell to it, like used socks - LOL! I totally am digging your use of cardamom and hemp seeds! Just genious! The chocolate tsoureki sounds awesome too!

Banana Wonder said...

Helen - LOL, sweaty smell! I wish I smelled like tsoureki went I sweat! I can kinda see what you mean, though. Glad you like tsoureki now. I bet you have some great fournos in Canada?