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The top desserts of Greek Easter

As Easter approaches, many traditional Greek households will be baking away in preparation for Great Lent and Holy Pascha (Easter).   The sweet aromas of moustokouloura, koulourakia and tsourekia will fill these homes once again.   Many of us will be looking forward to these delicious baked goods and the traditions that go along with them.   Although realistically these desserts can be enjoyed year round, it is however customary to bake these particular goodies in preparation for Easter.

Let’s begin with moustokouloura, a latten cookie that can be enjoyed as an alternative to koulourakia.   Like Orthodox Christmas lent, Easter lent lasts 40 days and only certain foods are to be consumed at this time.   Moustokouloura are a perfect treat when you’re craving something sweet during this period.   There are no dairy products in moustokouloura which is why they are latten and vegan.   These soft and chewy cookies are prepared for the fasting period ahead of Easter.   Unlike the koulourakia that are prepared for the big Easter feast, when lent has come to an end.   These easy to make cookies are well known for their grape molasses taste.

Moustokouloura-Cookie-Greek-Food-Shop

Moustokouloura date back all the way to ancient Greece.   Specifically when it was time to harvest the vine at the end of grape season.    While majority of the grape must would go into barrels for wine making, a portion was kept aside for other preparations such as these cookies.   Moustokouloura are usually made with grape must or petimezi, a concentrated grape must syrup.   Petimezi is readily available since it preserves well and therefore more commonly used.   It is known for its sweet yet slightly bitter undertone and one of world’s oldest natural sweeteners.   Not to mention the many health benefits of petimezi, for example it has a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that our bodies require.

Koulourakia date all the way back to Crete during the Minoan period.   They are known for their sweet delicate vanilla flavour and egg glaze on top.   Come Easter Sunday you will find most Greeks enjoying these cookies and tsoureki with their morning coffee, and as dessert later on that day.   These crunchy, light and airy biscuits are considered joyous cookies and therefore made to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.   That is why you will find them in all shapes and sizes, such as braids, figure 8’s and S’s to name a few.   Not only are they easy to make but fun for the whole family to participate in.   Most believe that the key ingredient in koulourakia is baking ammonia, instead of baking soda and baking powder.   However they all work and it’s really a personal preference, such as if you want the egg wash on top of the cookies or perhaps sesame seeds instead.

Select-Bakery-Koulourakia

Lastly we finish off with tsoureki, which isn’t a cookie but yet another must have for Greek Easter.   Tsoureki is a slightly sweet festive bread which is traditionally made for Easter Sunday, to symbolize and celebrate Christ’s resurrection and rebirth.   Often times you will also find them with a red egg in the middle, signifying the blood of Christ.   It is also common for the bread to be shaped into a braid, in which the three cords indicate the Holy Trinity.   The origin of tsoureki goes all the way back to Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).   However many cultures in that region bake a similar type of bread as well.   Greek tsoureki though is known for its fluffy, pull apart texture and golden brown soft crust.   Another distinctive characteristic of this bread, are its wonderful flavours.   Such as, orange-zest, mastic (resin from the mastic tree) and mahleb (ground cherry seeds).   These days like the cookies discussed above, tsoureki can be enjoyed year round.   With different toppings like nuts and confectioner sugar, dipped entirely into chocolate or filled with sweet creams to name a few.

Select-Bakery-Tsoureki

 

If anything mentioned above sounds new and interesting, then perhaps it’s time to try something special this Easter.   If you’re looking to bake a batch of your very own, then of course there is no better time than the present.   Make sure to visit Select Bakery for all your Easter and baking needs, whether it’s in shop or online they offer a wide range of items.   Looking for more latten foods? Look no further, they have an assortment of other sweets and savoury food options.   If you’re looking for chocolate bunnies and lambades (Orthodox Easter candles) Select Bakery has a wide selection of both to pick from as well.

Select-Bakery-Dark-Chocolate-Bunny

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