Mahlepi and mastiha are two distinct aromatic spices synonymous with Greek Easter baking. Mahlepi is made from the ground seeds of the mahaleb cherry and mastiha is a crystal resin derived from the mastic tree exclusive to the Greek island of Chios. A small amount of both sweet spices will go a long way in flavouring the bread and filling your house with the smell of Greek Easter. Mahlepi and mastiha can easily be found in any European grocer, deli or online.
The biggest challenge when baking gluten free tsoureki is achieving a light texture. Gluten free dough is very soft so it is difficult to plait tsoureki dough without adding an excessive amount of flour to the dough, resulting in rock hard bread. The best way to work around this issue is to treat your yeasted dough like a thick, wet cake batter. Simply spoon the batter into a round bundt tin and let the yeasted dough rise like a regular bread. Once baked you are left with a beautiful soft, light, fluffy sweet bread that nobody would ever guess is gluten free.
To make a dairy free version of this recipe just replace the butter with light olive oil and the milk with your favourite non dairy milk such as almond or macadamia milk.
In summary, here are my tips and tricks for the best ever gluten free tsoureki Easter bread –
- Add baking powder to act as a second raising agent to the yeast. Baking powder will add softness to the dough and help it ‘pop’ in the oven for a lighter texture versus yeast alone.
- Treat the yeasted dough like a cake batter. You don’t need to add more flour to form a ring because the bundt tin will do this for you. Your batter should be wet and spoonable.
- Find the warmest spot in your home to rest the bread for a better rise. I look for a very sunny spot near a window and wrap the bowl tightly to trap the warm air. On a cold day preheat the oven to 50C, turn it off and rest the bowl inside the oven.
- If you don’t own a bundt tin just bake in a regular 23cm round cake tin.
- The red eggs are optional. Feel free to leave them out. You can also replace the almond flakes with sesame seeds or just omit them for a nut free version.
If you have any remaining gluten free tsoureki bread after a couple of days, slice it and store it in the freezer for up to a month. Toasted tsoureki is delicious topped with jam, butter and cinnamon sugar or chocolate hazelnut spread. Happy Easter!
NO KNEAD GLUTEN FREE TSOUREKI RECIPE
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 x 7g yeast sachets
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 3 cups plain gluten free flour*
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mahlepi
- ½ teaspoon ground mastiha
- 1 teaspoon orange zest - or 1 tbl spoon Orange Agrumato EVOO
- pinch of sea salt flakes
- 50g butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 lightly whisked eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 tablespoons flaked almonds
- optional - red eggs
- * I used Ardor plain gluten free flour.
- Grease a 23cm round bundt tin with butter. Add milk, yeast and half the sugar to a small bowl and stir to combine. Rest for 15 minutes until yeast foams.
- Add flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, mahlepi, mastiha, zest and salt to a mixing bowl and combine. Pour in yeasty milk, butter, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine.
- Spoon thick wet batter into bundt tin. Spread out smoothly and sprinkle over almonds. Cover in cling wrap and rest for about an hour in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size.
- Preheat a fan forced oven to 180C.
- Drizzle dough with melted butter and place optional red eggs onto dough. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Rest for an hour before slicing.