The Easter season has come and gone for another year so today I bring you one of the items I served at our table. Tsoureki is a very popular sweet bread in Greece similar in texture to a French brioche. It is traditionally served at Pascha (Easter) but is also commonly consumed at other holidays or as a daily accompaniment to coffee/tea.
Most Greeks will tell you that making your own tsoureki is a daunting task to perfect, which is why many simply purchase it from local Greek bakeries verses making it homemade. I myself have purchased the bread for many years since I always place more focus on preparing other traditional offerings. However this year I decided to take up the task of making tsoureki homemade for Easter and the process honestly did not live up to the horror portrayed.
The perfect Tsoureki is a buttery soft yet flaky dough flavored with the distinct aromatic spices ground masticha (mastic) and ground mahlepi. Masticha or Mastic is a tree resin found on the Greek island of Chios. Mahlepi or mahleb is a spice derived from ground cherry seeds. These two spices are what give tsoureki its distinct taste and alluring sweet aroma. Without them the bread becomes no different from a French brioche.
If you are a regular follower of mine you’re probably wondering what my take on this traditional bread will be. Although I love tsoureki in its traditional loaf form I always like to make a fresh twist to established recipes as my own signature of sorts. With tsoureki, I sought to streamline the traditional braided design into a more portable portion. Tsoureki is traditionally braided into a long loaf or a crown shape. For my recipe, I portion out the dough into equal sized rolls and braid them the traditional way. I then place each braided roll into a muffin tin. This strategy makes it easy to provide the perfect amount of tsoureki for the expected amount of guests for holidays and is a far less messy alternative for kids, especially since they do not have patience to wait for a slice to be cut. If you want to try tsoureki and share it with family and friends, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. You will be delightfully surprised at how great of a roll this is!
- 1 pkg. Dry Yeast
- 1/3 cup Warm Milk (100° to 110°)
- 15.75 oz. (about 3 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp. Ground Mahlepi (may also be labeled mahlab/mahleb)
- ½ tsp. Ground Masticha (may also be labeled mastic)
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 4 Large Eggs; lightly beaten
- 6 ½ tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened & cut into large cubes
- 1 tbsp. Water
- 1 Large Egg White
- Sliced Almonds; optional
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine yeast and warm milk. Dissolve yeast in milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, mahlepi, masticha, salt, and eggs. Add flour mixture to the milk mixture. Set mixer to low-speed and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula as needed. Continue to beat dough on low speed for 5 minutes or until dough is soft and elastic and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Set mixer to medium speed and add half of butter to the dough until just incorporated. Add remaining butter cubes to dough and beat until incorporated. Continue to beat dough at medium speed for 4 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough into the bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place free from drafts for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Once risen, gently press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains the dough has risen enough to proceed. If indentation does not remain allow more time to rise. Once indentation remains, punch dough down then form into a ball. Return dough to bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- Uncover dough and let stand 90 minutes or until dough is at room temperature. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent it from drying out), cut dough into 6 equal pieces.
- Working with one piece at a time, break into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long log. Pinch together the 3 logs at the top and braid down like you would hair. Pinch the end of the braid and pull braid into a ball formation, tucking the end of the braid underneath the ball to secure. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions to make 24 rolls total. Place rolls into cups of a muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Combine water and egg white; stir with a whisk. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture. If using almonds, gently press 3-4 onto the top of each roll. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve.
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017
With winter officially over and the onset of Spring, everyone naturally turns to fresh, light, and airy trends. Clothing takes on hues of light pastels and airy designs, homes become lighter following dreaded bouts of extensive cleaning, and food menus turn to the flavors of seasonal fresh fruits like the recently harvested lemon. With spring also comes the rush to reach goal weights set back around new years before summer bikini season starts. What dessert could possibly fit the requirements of all these springtime cliches??? Enter now the Lemon-Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake.
Unlike other cakes, angel food cake uses absolutely no butter or oil, not even to grease the pan. It is very light and airy with a bit of sponge at first bite. Perhaps the best cake to eat on a diet. This cake also does not use baking soda or baking powder…. but how does it get its statuesque height??? EGG WHITES… and a whole lot of them I must add. In fact this cake has a very short ingredient list. But do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity. With simplicity comes more stress to the smallest of details. That flour you didn’t think you needed to sift will lend you a dense, squat cake. Or that little microscopic speck of egg yolk that slipped into the whites while you were separating them will forever prevent you from reaching proper peaks. Without gentle care this majestically tall, snowy-white cake can turn dense, wet, and depressing. You don’t want to serve a depressing cake reminescent to the blah winter blues to a crowd of cheery guests at an Easter party.
If you are careful to follow this recipe with care you are sure to produce consistent sky-high beauties flecked with bits of poppy seeds and bursts of lemon in each bite… absolutely perfect to serve for any springtime celebration. The key you must always remember while preparing this is the volume of the egg whites you whip up so be sure to watch for any hint of yolk when separating the eggs initially. You can use cold or room temperature eggs since both will ultimately whip up to the same volume, however cold eggs will take a little bit longer and are more likely to make you start questioning if you messed something up along the way when you really haven’t. To add some reassurance that you won’t end up with deflated whites I always use cream of tartar because the acidity it offers helps to stabilize the whipped whites.
I know it may be tempting but do not use all-purpose flour in this recipe. You will end up with a cake more like overly soft bread that plasters to the roof of your mouth when you eat it. Not flattering. If your tube pan does not have a removable bottom, I recommend lining it with parchment paper. Just make sure you never grease any part of the pan or parchment. The eggs need to cling to the pans surface in order to rise high and if you grease the pan the eggs can not grip the pan and you will end up with a short stubby brick of a cake. Not cool. After being separated from Angel Food Cake since my grandmother last made it during the holidays, I can confidently say this cake is a keeper for generations to come.
Serves: 10 generous portions or 12 smaller portions
Lemon-Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake
- 4½ oz. Cake Flour (approximately 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. if you do not have a scale)
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 1¾ cups Granulated Sugar
- 12 Egg Whites
- 1½ tsp. Cream of Tartar
- 1 tsp. Lemon Extract
- 1 tbsp. Lemon Zest; grated
- 2 tbsp. Lemon Juice; (approximately 2-3 lemons)
- 1 tbsp. Poppy Seeds
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325°. Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. Process the sugar in a food processor until fine and powdery, approximately 1 minute. Set aside about half of the processed sugar in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the remaining sugar left in the food processor and process until well aerated as if sifted, about another minute.
- With a stand mixer set to medium-low speed, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and with the motor running, slowly add the sugar set aside earlier. Make sure to evenly distribute the sugar around the bowl and do not add it all in one spot or you run the risk of deflating the egg whites. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon extract, zest, and juice. Mix until just incorporated.
- Sift the flour mixture over the whipped egg whites in 3 separate additions. Fold the mixture gently with a rubber spatula after each addition until incorporated. Gently stir in the poppy seeds until evenly distributed. Scrape cake batter into a 12-cup UNGREASED tube pan.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean and the cracks in the top of the cake appear dry not wet, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the cake on a bottle if your tube pan does not have a stand and allow to cool to room temperature upside down, about 3 hours. This keeps the cake from deflating. Once cool, turn the cake right side up and run a knife around the edges of the pan. Invert the pan on a platter & serve.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014
This past weekend my family celebrated a holiday. Most of you are thinking it was the obvious Cinco de Mayo celebration which, although was indeed Sunday, was not the only holiday of the day. For those of the Greek Orthodox faith it was Easter Sunday and in my house we were making Easter dinner with some Easter treats. I know what most of you may be thinking… Easter was a long time ago but that is not the case for the Greek Orthodox Christians as they follow the old calendar and not the new of the western world. Therefore, some years Easter will coincide and other years it will not. This year was one of those years.
With that said I was in the kitchen making lamb and a slew of other yummy’s when I decided to make a new pastry for the family to try rather than the traditional Pasta Flora. I thought I would try a Linzertorte which surprisingly ended up being similar to the Pasta Flora of Greek Easter tradition. Both pastries are more crust/dough then filling, the dough’s are both lemon based, creating a smell I recognized from Pasta Flora as I prepared the Linzertorte. The only noticeable difference at that point was in texture. Lastly, both pastries are filled with a jam center. Although these mini Linzertortes are much simpler than the traditional formulas from Austria, it is still a bit more tedious than the Greek Pasta Flora.
The crust is made up of hazelnuts and almonds for a balanced nut flavor without bitterness. Traditional formulas ask for a hard boiled egg which is not only bizarre but time consuming. Time which a new mommy doesn’t have!!! Not to mention the hard boiled egg actually does too good a job at making the dough tender. A raw egg moistens the dough and brings it together just fine. For the final touch on the crust, cinnamon and allspice is added for spice. Once mixed up and flavored, the hardest step of the Linzertorte comes next… forming the crust in the tart pan with the rather sticky dough.
I found the easiest way to do this is chill the dough until firm yet still malleable. Then divide the dough in two and roll each disk out between plastic wrap to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Be sure to chill the dough if at any point it gets too sticky to work with. When laying the lattice strips, be very careful as the dough softens and breaks easily. Also the jam center prevents the strips from being repositioned once initially laid down so study the instructions carefully before laying the first strip as it can be difficult to fix mistakes after beginning. If at any time the lattice strips tear or crack, don’t despair. Just piece them back together the best you can. Once you baste the dough with the cream and sugar, any cracks will be almost unnoticeable after baked. Once out of the oven, the traditional accompaniment is lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with kirsch or framboise but you can use vanilla if you do not want to use alcohol. Or of course you can skip the whipped cream and eat as is. The tarts keep very well for about 2 days at room temperature in a tightly sealed container. The following formula makes two small tarts and one pan of mini tartlets or one 11 inch Tart that serves 10 to 12.
Mini Raspberry Linzertortes
- 1 cup (5 oz.) Unblanched Hazelnuts
- ½ cup (2 oz.) Blanched Almonds
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. Sugar
- ½ tsp. Grated Lemon Zest
- 1 ½ cups (7 ½ oz.) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. Ground Allspice
- 12 tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces and kept chilled
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 ¼ cups (13 ½ oz.) Raspberry Preserves
- 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp. Heavy Cream
- 1 ½ tsp. Turbinado or Demerara Sugar (optional)
- For the Pastry: Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 350°. Toast nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, stirring once, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Cool nuts to room temperature. Do not turn off the oven.
- In a food processor, pulse cooled nuts, sugar, and salt until very finely ground, about eighteen 1-second pulses. Add lemon zest and pulse to combine. Add flour, cinnamon and allspice and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the butter lumps are no larger than peppercorns and the mixture resembles coarse meal, about twelve to fifteen 1-second pulses. In a small bowl, whisk lightly to combine the egg and vanilla. With the food processor running, pour the egg mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough forms a large ball, about 10 seconds.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and press together to form a cohesive mound. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough until firm but still malleable. If not using right away you can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
- Cut a parchment round to fit the tart pan or pans size that you are using. Spray the bottom and sides of the tart pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray. Separate the bottom from the sides of the tart pan(s) and line the bottom with the parchment round and spray the parchment with cooking spray. Roll out the dough into disk(s) between plastic wrap to a size just shy of the edges of the pan bottom. Place the dough on the pan bottom(s) and drop into the fluted ring(s). Using hands, press the dough into an even layer until flush with the sides of the tart pan(s). Using a fork, poke holes uniformly in the dough and set the tart pan(s) on a baking sheet. Bake until beginning to brown around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
- Pinch pieces of dough from the remaining disk and roll with hands on a work surface to form a rope. Place the rope against the side of the cool prebaked tart pan(s). Repeat with additional dough (you will have some dough left over for the lattice), connecting the ends of the ropes. When the entire inside wall of the tart pan(s) have been lined, use your fingers to gently press the rope into the flutes of the pan(s), creating walls about 5/8 in. high (walls should not be as high as the rim of the tart pan(s). Set the tart pan(s) aside on the baking sheet.
- Reshape the remaining dough into either one large 12 in. round if using a large tart pan or two 6 in. rounds if preparing two mini tarts. Dough should be rolled to 1/8 in. thickness between two sheets of parchment sprayed with cooking spray. If the dough becomes too sticky to work with, refrigerate or freeze it until firm but still malleable. Peel off the top layer of parchment. Using a ruler sprayed lightly with cooking spray and a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or chef’s knife, neaten the edge of the dough round(s), then cut round into strips. You will need 10 strips for each tart. Slide parchment with dough onto a baking sheet and cover loosely with parchment. Freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 40 minutes until firm but not fully stiff.
- For the Filling: While the lattice chills, in a small bowl stir the raspberry preserves and lemon juice together. Spread the preserves evenly in the tart shell(s).
- To Assemble, Glaze, & Bake: Invert the dough strips sandwiched between parchment and peel off the top layer. Using an icing spatula as needed, lift one of the longest strips from the center of the round and lay across the center of the tart at the 1 o’clock/7 o’clock position. Lift the second longest strip and lay across the center of the tart at the 3 o’clock/9 o’clock position. You should have an X formed across the tart at this stage. Lift a short strip and lay across the tart parallel to the first strip, near the edge of the tart. Working clockwise, repeat the positioning of outer strips parallel to the central strips. There should now be 6 strips in place. Lift one of the remaining strips and lay across the tart parallel to and equidistant from the central and edge strips. Working clockwise, repeat until lattice is complete with 10 strips. Press any excess dough against the rim of the tart pan to neatly trim. Repeat process with remaining tart if making two mini tarts.
- Gently brush lattice strips with heavy cream and, if using, sprinkle with sugar. Bake tart(s) on baking sheet until deep golden brown, about 50 minutes for one large tart or 20 minutes for mini tarts. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.
- To Serve: Remove outer tart pan ring. Slide a thin metal spatula between parchment paper and bottom of crust to loosen. Slide tart onto serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve with flavored whipped cream if desired.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM COOKS ILLUSTRATED
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013
Spring is officially here. The plants are in full bloom, spring breakers are flooding the area, and the Easter holiday is just around the corner. I must say I do love the smell of Orange Blossoms in full bloom, which scents the air of citrus when I walk out my door. It is most definitely the best perk of living outside the city and near the orange groves. The thing I hate most about spring happens to be the spring breaker tourists, which remind me of the long few months ahead of tourists. I shouldn’t much complain about tourists I suppose, as they do keep me busy in business equaling more hours and a larger paycheck. However I can’t get myself to like the onslaught of invaders crowding the Florida roadways with maps on the steering wheel driving twenty miles under the speed limit looking for the nearest Disney World signs and causing me to leave for work and school hours in advance just to get anywhere on time. Perhaps the best part of spring is Easter as I love all holidays. I love the food, I love the cute Easter bunny toys and bags and chocolates. It is with the Easter bunny in mind that this cupcake has come about. What better way to lure the Easter bunny to your home then with his favorite food inside it… the carrot. Carrot Cake is traditionally…well a cake cut into squares and covered in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. But in order to make it more accessible for mom or dad err I mean the Easter Bunny to eat on the go after hiding countless Easter eggs and baskets around the house, I present to you the Carrot Cupcake.
These little Easter delights are a mouthful of moist and richly spiced cake with a fluffy sweet cream cheese frosting. The Easter bunny would never know these cupcake versions of the 1970’s cake fad were once considered health food as they are so deliciously satisfying as a junk food treat. By adding chopped walnuts and raisins, they are also more interesting and a bit more eclectic when put against the traditional cake. Even though the Carrot Cupcakes are reminiscent of a bake sale offering for children they are most definitely a grown up treat. So to all the Easter Bunnies out there this year…enjoy a treat designed just for you!!!
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
- ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
- ¼ cup Brown Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 ¼ cup Flour
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. Cloves
- ¾ tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ tsp. Baking Soda
- ½ # Carrots, peeled and grated/processed
- ½ cup Raisins, chopped
- ½ cup Walnuts, toasted & chopped
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350°. Line a standard sized muffin tin with cupcake liners. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the muffin tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Once cool frost cakes with a thick and even layer of cream cheese frosting (formula follows).
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened but slightly cool
- 1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
- 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened, cut into pieces
- ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar together until it appears light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese one piece at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition (you should have about four pieces). Add the vanilla and mix gently until no lumps remain.
- Using an offset spatula, gently spread a thick layer of frosting over the cooled cupcakes.
Special Thanks To:
Peter Mendoros – Photography
All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012