Monday, March 14, 2016

No Knead, Vegan Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)

No Knead, Easy, Vegan Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)
Traditionally, Tsoureki is made with all of the rich, luxurious ingredients that Orthodox Christians abstain from during Lent. It is a Feasting food for Pascha, (which is what we Orthodox Christians call Easter).

Tsoureki is tender, sweet, moist, rich - luxurious. Definitely not Vegan ; )

But, what if you don't - or can't - eat Eggs, Butter, and Milk, but you still want a Traditional treat on Pascha? This is the question that was posed to me last Lent by some Vegan friends from Church - and it started me on a quest that eventually produced LOTS of different Bread recipes - but THIS is the recipe that started it all!

Because food isn't just about ingredients & nutrition - it's also about Tradition, Emotion & Culture!

Tsoureki Rising, with a Tsoureki Dinner Roll next to it.

The use of Tapioca Starch, Potato, and Sugar tenderizes & moisturizes the dough, and make a moist, tender, fluffy loaf without the use of oil or eggs.

This bread was inspired by a combination of two others - the method in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and a festive bread from Bryanna Clark Grogan. But, I changed BOTH Recipes a lot by the time I was done!

A cultural note: Greek Orthodox Pascha is MUCH later than Western Easter this year - so it is rather strange to be posting a Pascha recipe just as Lent begins for us - but I wanted to share the recipe with those who celebrate on the Western Calendar, too.

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) **** (Scroll Down for Smaller Batch)
Measure into a 6 quart container*, in this order
2 2/3 Cups Warm Water (baby bath water temperature. If in doubt, make it too cool rather than too warm)
1/3 Cup Orange Juice Concentrate (or, more water if you prefer not to have orange flavor)
5 1/4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, that's right, the stuff people use to make Instant Mashed Potatoes)
1 Cup Sugar (if you prefer less sweetness, you can just use 1/2 cup without changing anything else in this recipe)
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 teaspoon Ground Mahlepi ****
1/2 teaspoon Ground Masticha (Mastic) (optional) ****

Stir well with a spoon till no patches of dry Flour remain.

The dough should look like this right after you stir it.

Cover loosely with lid (don't fasten so securely that it cannot "breathe")
Leave it on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.
Now, put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it **

The dough should look like this after it has sat out on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.

Note - do not "Punch Down" this kind of dough. 

When you're ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and dust it VERY WELL with Flour. This is a moist, sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use lots of Flour!

Oil your pan (I use a Perforated, Non-stick Pizza Pan, like this one for baking)

 Gently Divide the dough in half, and divide one half into three pieces. Pull each piece into a long rope & dust with flour again. Lay the strands side by side, and braid them. It works best if you start at the middle and braid toward the end. If you've never braided bread before, this is a great tutorial post - but because of its lower gluten content, you may find this dough a little easier to form into ropes that the bread in the tutorial.

Shape another loaf with the second half of the dough if desired***, or return the remaining dough to the refrigerator to use later. This dough CAN be kept in the fridge for a week or more and still be quite good to use, but with this particular dough, you'll find the fluffiest, sweetest results if you bake it within a day or two of mixing.

The Three Strands in Tsoureki Symbolize the Holy Trinity. This bread is traditionally studded with Red Greek Pascha Eggs - but since this is a Vegan recipe, I simply omitted the eggs. Feel free to add them if you like! 

Leave to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake in the middle of the oven, without steam for 35-40 minutes.

For best results, cool before serving.

Small Batch Easy, No Knead Vegan Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
 (Makes 2 pounds of dough - for one large loaf or two small ones)
Follow above directions, but use these amounts
I prepare a batch this size in an 8 Cup Container - the one in the above pictures.
Be sure to add in this order:

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water (if you want an optional orange flavor, use 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice Concentrate in place of part of the water -then add water to total 1 1/2 cups liquid)
2 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/2 Cup Sugar (if you prefer less sweetness, you can use 1/4 cup sugar without changing anything else in the recipe)
1/2 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Mahlepi, Ground****
1/4 teaspoon Mastic, Ground****

Stir well, then follow above directions - the same as for a large batch.

* For my 6 Quart Container, I use a new plastic shoe box from the Dollar Store.
** This dough CAN be used the day it is made - but it is a tad easier to shape after it is refrigerated.
*** If you bake two loaves at the same time, put one loaf on the middle rack, and one on the bottom rack. Then, set a timer to switch their positions half-way through baking, so that they brown evenly both on the top and on the bottom.
**** Spices are traditionally ground in a Mortar & Pestle. I grind them in my electric coffee grinder - I use some of the sugar in the recipe to add to the grinder to produce enough bulk to grind - then I add the mixture of sugar & spices to the recipe.

If you like this recipe, try these others that are made from the same dough, but without the spices
  Challah, Easy, No Knead, Vegan
  Crescent Rolls, Easy, No Knead, Vegan  
  Dinner Rolls, Vegan, Soft & Fluffy, No Knead, Refrigerator 
  Vasilopita, Easy, No Knead, Vegan 

This post was featured on:

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  1. This looks wonderful - and it's always good to have vegan variations of our favorites! I have been to Greece twice, but never during Pascha. Maybe one day!

  2. This looks like such a great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Friday Funday Blog Hop. #FFBH

  3. Do you think this dough would work for hot cross buns? I think I will try it this weekend (I'm not Greek Orthodox).

    1. Delighted to have you visit, Kathy! Happy Easter! I'm sure this recipe will work anyplace that you'd normally use enriched dough - including Hot Cross Buns. Just omit the Mahelepi & Mastic, and substitute in your spices (for Hot Cross Buns I'd assume Cinnamon & maybe Clove & some Raisins or Currants) My Dinner roll recipe that uses the same dough might give you some more ideas

      So glad to have you here! I'd love to hear how your Buns turn out! : )

  4. It's such a pleasure to read and share your healthy and delectable greek easter bread recipe. Thank you for partying with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I'm pinning and sharing this!

  5. This is one of my favorite comfort foods! I am so glad you shared your delicious No Knead, Vegan Greek Easter Bread recipe with us at the Plant-based Potluck Party. I'm pinning and sharing.


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