Dissolve the yeast in the warm water
with 1 tbs. sugar, set it aside to ferment and proof – about
Cream the butter and sugar in a large
bowl until it is light. Beat in four of the eggs, one at a
time, beating with each addition. On low speed, slowly pour in
the warm milk. Add 1 cup of the flour and the mastic and mix
into the other ingredients. Then add the dissolved yeast and
slowly start adding the remaining flour.
When the mixture gets too thick to stir,
remove it from the mixer. Dip both your hands into flour so
they don’t get sticky, and start kneading the dough by hand,
until all the flour is incorporated. It should be pliable and
smooth, not stiff.
Cover the dough with a towel and set it
in a warm place to rise – about 1 hour, until it is double in
bulk. Knead it again for 1 minute and then set it aside to
rise once more.
Knead the dough again for 1 minute, and
then divide it into 12 orange sized balls. This will yield you
4 loaves. Roll each ball on a floured board into a rope 1 1/2
to 2 inches thick and 15 to 20 inches long.
Take three ropes, and press the edges of
the ropes together and tuck the end under the loaf. Braid the
length of the ropes and when finished, press the other end
together and tuck under the loaf. Set each loaf on a
well-greased sheet and cover so they rise again and are
doubled in bulk.
Pre-heat the oven to 275F. Beat the last
egg lightly and brush the tops of the braided loaves with it.
Bake the loaves for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 250F and
continue baking until they are golden brown – about 1/2 hour.
They can be stored in airtight bags or even frozen to enjoy on
Susie’s Note: For a
little variation, you can add pieces of dried orange peel and
mix it into the dough. If you would like to get more
decorative with your Tsourekia, you can push hard-boiled, dyed
eggs into the loaf right before it is baked. They make the
loaves that much more festive
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