You might be puzzled with the title and wonder whether Turkish people celebrate Easter. Well, we don’t. You already know it’s not an official holiday celebrated in Turkey as a high percentage of its population consists of muslims. So how come we have a bread with that special name? It has a secret ingredient that makes it Turkish Easter Bread.
We most probably learnt Easter bread thanks to the large Christian community that used to live on this land years ago. We’ve exchanged several recipes for years and this Turkish Easter Bread is one of those recipes that could survive. We call it paskalya coregi and you can easily find it at almost all bakeries or pastry shops at any time. There is still a small Christian community in the country and they celebrate Easter for sure, but you don’t have to wait for Easter to enjoy this pillowy bread in Turkey.
The secret ingredient in this bread is mahlab, which is an aromatic spice and made from the seeds of a particular sour cherry. It is also called mahaleb or mahlep. We use this special spice in small amounts in sweet or savory baked pastries to give them a nice nutty flavor, which I think is slightly similar to cinnamon as well. A typical savory pastry in which we use mahlab is these Sesame Rings, which are mostly baked to celebrate Kandil, which is the name used for five Islamic holy nights. You can read more about mahlab in the Kitchn’s Spice Cupboard.
I guess Italian Easter Bread is the most common one among all easter breads around the world since I saw it numerous times on the web. This bread is as fluffy as a typical Italian Easter Bread, with that special flavor addition.
Besides mahlab, I added a little orange zest to give it a fresher flavor. We loved the combination of these flavors so much that 2 loaves were gone in no time! I made these overnight and it was really so hard to wait until next day for the shooting process.
Turkish Easter bread is mostly topped with hazelnuts, so I topped three of them with raw hazelnuts. I roughly chopped raw hazelnuts for topping, you can chop them finer or just ground them if you like.
I saw on the web that Italian Easter bread is topped with colorful sprinkles too, I do love to use these sweet beads in baking, so I topped the other three loaves with these. I brushed the loaves with a sweet water after they are baked and cooled and then toss sprinkles on each. On the other hand, you can use hazelnut pieces right before you put the loaves in oven.
As for the shape, Turkish Easter Bread is made in small long braids, so I had 6 braided bread loaves in total. You can definitely make 2 big braids too if you want things to finish quicker.
This slightly sweet cotton soft easter bread will definitely be a winner at your holiday table and I’m afraid your guests will fill their stomach just with it. Believe me it’s that good!
- 2 and ½ tsp instant yeast
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp mahlab
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp orange zest
- 1 and ¼ cup lukewarm milk
- ⅓ cup butter (100g)
- 4 and ¾ cups all purpose flour
- Egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- Sweet glaze:
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- Chopped hazelnuts
- Colorful sprinkles
- Heat milk and butter in a pot until butter melts. Wait it until it reaches room temperature.
- Mix yeast, sugar, mahlab and beaten eggs in a large bowl.
- Add in salt, orange zest and butter-milk mixture. Mix well.
- Beat in flour, one cup each time until a soft dough forms.
- Knead a few minutes until it doesn’t stick to your fingers. Dust the counter with little flour if needed.
- Transfer the dough into a slightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or wet kitchen towel. Let it rise for 1 hour.
- Line two oven pans with parchment paper. You will place 3 loaves on each.
- Divide the dough in half and then divide eash half into 3 equal balls.
- Divide each ball into three and shape each ball into about 25-30cm long rope.
- Pinch the ends of the ropes, transfer them on a baking sheet and braid them together.
- Repeat the same until you finish all the balls.
- Cover the dough loaves with parchment paper and a large table cloth over it to prevent air in it.
- Let it rise for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat oven to 190C.
- Whish one egg with 1 tbsp milk and brush each loaf with it right before baking.
- Top three of them with chopped nuts and leave them the rest plain for a later glaze.
- Bake for 17 minutes or until golden.
- Leave to cool completely.
- Mix sugar and warm water and brush the other three with this sweet water.
- Top with sprinkles without waiting.