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!


celia said...

Beautiful, Barb! I love the plait. I'm fascinated how similar it looks to both challah and Swiss zopf..

Anonymous said...

Your greek bread looks wonderful.

Unknown said...

It's much denser than challah, but has that buttery, eggy base.

Bungalow Barbara said...

Oh, lovely! Holiday breads are so fascinating.

I think you may be able to find your sour cherry pits under the name of "mahlab." Penzeys carries it: