Sunday, April 19, 2009
Happy Greek Easter: Christo Anesti!
I had the privilege of being invited to my great friends' Rachel and Mike's to celebrate Greek Easter with them. Rachel grew up in a Greek household, and her holidays are all linked to Greek tradition--this week, today, in fact, was Greek Easter. She asked (or did I volunteer? Can't remember, because I wanted to do this) me to bring Greek Easter bread.
I looked up several recipes and settled on a Greek Easter Bread recipe credited to Saveur. The consistent ingredient that I was/am missing? Well, to start with, something called makhlépi. Best I can tell it's the seeds of the Mediterranean wild cherry. I was to steep the seeds then use that tea to scent the bread. A lot of recipes also use mastic. Guess I need to get myself to the Greek market and ask for these things. I made it without the steeped cherry water and without mastic and added anise extract instead. I think that was my Italian coming out.
It was fabulous. First of all, it was beautiful. Beautiful. Rachel was impressed I used a red egg (red-ish. Dyes are wimpy, aren't they? Best I could get was a dark pink), but of course, when I do something, I want it done right. I wanted most of all to live up to Rachel's memories.
The crumb is lovley, too, so even and regular and small--Rachel thought it was a bit sweet, but my recipe used half a cup LESS sugar than the recipe in the book she had on her shelf--perhaps that anise addition gave that hint of sweetness. All in all? Great bread. She's taking some to her mom out in California. Frankly, that says it all: I couldn't be prouder!
BTW, Gary won the little crack-the-red-egg game. We could use the good luck. That egg is staying with me. Christos Anesti, all!