Greek Easter Bread

Saturday night I took the train out to my parent’s house. My brother is on spring break from college and our family decided to host Easter. It was a small crowd, mainly just my mother’s side of the family. (Her two brothers and their families, my grandmother, and also John and his mother joined us.)

I woke horribly early on Sunday morning to begin the onion tart and the Greek Easter bread that I was contributing. In addition we served a fruit salad, a garden salad, ham, a broccoli and cheese casserole, mashed potatoes, and olives. And for dessert Lynn brought a key lime pie, Dave baked a delicious lime cheesecake, and Carol made one of her fabulous apple pies.

I used the onion tart recipe from Molly at Orangette which I had tried before and was very pleased with. For the Greek Easter bread I used a recipe from Alberto of Il Forno. It turned out great. (Well, the loaf on the right at least. I made the dough for the loaf on the left first and panicked when it did not appear to be rising. I made the second loaf just in case and it ended up being quite superior. It was much more airy and light.)

I decided to opt for the red eggs as the pictures I saw of this traditional color were stunning. However, the color didn’t hold well and I ended up with pink eggs nestled in a ring of red-dyed bread.

The bread had a glorious crust, a wonderful aroma, and a buttery, sweet, and delicate crumb. I will definitely make this bread again. I bet the recipe would be divine if I made small rolls stuffed with a bit of gruyere or a pat of dark chocolate.

show hide 7 comments

peter - My grandma is Greek, and she makes this bread for Easter sometimes. It is very good. She uses a special Greek dye for the eggs so that they stay an extremely bright red-red, and don’t leak into the bread at all. Next time I talk with her (probably today, actually…), I’ll ask her what she uses.

gemma - That would be great to know what she uses, thanks. I figured there was probably a special dye once I saw my finished product. It would certainly be a bit more aesthetically pleasing to use one. While festive, perhaps, pink bread wasn’t all that appetizing. Luckily only a tiny bit turned though.

kasia - Your pink eggs remind me of the one traditional Polish thing I make every Easter – dyed red eggs. They’re dyed by being cooked with onion skins. It doesn’t affect the flavor at all. Actually, you probably don’t even need to cook them with the onion skins; it might be enough just to let them sit overnight in some water with the onion skins. Anyway, it might rub off less?
There is something unsettling about pink bread.

gemma - I’ve never heard of this. I will have to try it, thanks for the advice. Yes, pink bread is sketchy, though my grandma thought it was pretty.

Joy - I don’t know, the bread looks very beautiful to me! We would be thrilled if you brought some to our Easter dinner — pink eggs, red eggs or not. Fabulous. Thanks for the wonderful inspirateion. –Joy

gemma - Thanks for your kind words Joy. You should give it a try for your dinner next year. Perhaps by then I will have some advice on the bleeding egg problem. Kasia’s suggestion of using onion skins seems the most promising thus far, though I haven’t tried it.

Leni - Most Greek groceries will, around Orthodox Easter time, have special extra-strong dye so that your tsoureki eggs will get really bright red.
The bleeding problem is as far as I can tell a little more insoluble(they’ll at least look like the right color to be bleeding, though!)…presumably everyone’s Greek gramma has some sort of voodoo power to keep the dye from bleeding, I’ve never been able to do it but my yiayia just smiles when I ask her and says, “you just have to be a little careful, Eleni!”

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