First you have to dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk in a bowl.
Add a few spoonfuls of the flour to make a paste.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let aside
in a warm place to rise.
In a big plastic bowl, mix 1Kg and 200gr. of the flour and the salt together and add the melted butter.
In a saucepan boil the mahlab (mahlep) in the 500ml of water, strain, and add the liquid to the flour.
(Or you could add 1 tsp of the mahlep or other
flavoring + 500ml of liquid - for example 250ml each of orange juice, milk or
In the plastic bowl with the flour add the eggs, the mastic, the sugar and the risen yeast mixture.
On a floured clean work surface or in a food processor bowl, knead the mixture well, adding in the remaining flour until you have a soft and easy to handle dough.
About 15-20 minutes (or 10 minutes with a food
processor). Cover the dough with a towel and allow it to rise in a warm place
until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
Preheat the oven to 175° C.
Punch down the dough and start making various shapes out of it:
Braids: Roll out 12 ropes, each about 38cm long. Braid sets of 3 ropes to form loaves, tucking ends in underneath the loaves.
For the traditional
more uncracked red
into the braids.
Twists: Shape into ropes 50-60cm long. Fold each rope in half and twist gently. Tuck a red egg into the top of the twist.
Other shapes: They can also be shaped into round loaves or rings
Place the tsourekia on greased oven sheets or baking pans, cover, and allow them to rise in a warm place until again doubled in size.
Brush with the egg/water mixture.
You can decorate the surface of the tsourekia, sprinkling on top with blanched flaked almonds.
When the tsourekia are well risen bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown (use the trick of tapping on their bottom; they should sound hollow).
Let them cool for 5 minutes and then transfer them onto racks to cool completely.