I make this bread every Easter because it is a family tradition passed on from my great-grandmother. One of the reasons that my family makes this bread consistently is because we are Greek. Of course, we also make it because it’s a delicious tradition! This bread is best freshly baked and then toasted (in my opinion)!
Step 1: Make the Dough
1. Heat milk in a saucepan until bubbles form or it is steaming; remove from medium heat.
2. Pour milk into bowl; add and mix crushed anise seed, butter, and sugar. The mixture will most likely be chunky and separated; this is completely normal.
3. Dissolve yeast in separate bowl of warm water.
4. Beat eggs in large bowl; add milk mixture, yeast, and ½ cup of flour to beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
5. Add the rest of the flour, mix until soft dough forms. The dough may be a little dry; I usually add a splash of milk to make the dough more sticky.
Step 2: Let the Dough Rise
1. Roll out dough on floured surface; cover dough with cloth for 10 minutes.
2. Uncover dough; knead for 5 minutes.
3. Place dough in greased bowl, making sure all sides of dough are greased. Cover the bowl with a cloth.
4. Let dough rise in warm place for 3 hours, or until it has roughly doubled in size.
5. Punch the dough and knead again for 2 minutes.
Step 3: Prepare the Bread for the Oven
1. Separate the dough into three sections, and then make the three balls of dough into long strings of dough.
2. Pinch the ends of the strings together.
3. Braid the three strings of dough, and place on greased cookie sheet.
4. Cover loaf and let rise for 1 hour.
5. Uncover loaf; brush the top of the dough with milk. You can apply the milk with a spatula or a brush.
Step 4: Cook the Tsoureki
Bake the bread at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and knocking the bread produces a hollow sound.
Step 5: Eat!
You can either eat the bread as it is or you can toast it. If you want to toast it, wait for the bread to cool, slice and excessively butter it, and then broil it in the oven. My family usually makes several loaves, freezes them, and then toasts a couple loaves on the morning that we want to eat tsoureki. However, fresh tsoureki is also amazing! Regardless of how you prepared it, enjoy!