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!