I have recipes for at least three Greek celebration breads, including this recipe for Christopsomo. They are similar to each other and to a lot of other enriched breads. This recipe calls for mahlepi, which is the pit of a near-eastern cherry tree, and mastic. I have found mahlepi in The Greek Store(That’s the name; it’s in Kenilworth, NJ, and highly recommended) in the past, but they had been out of it for the past year. I was bemoaning my plight to a friend (she and her husband are Greek). She told me that they had just returned from a trip to Greece and Turkey and she had brought some mahlepi back with them. I told her that I would exchange bread for mahlepi and the trade got done. So here it is, tradable Christopsomo!
This recipe may seem overwhelming at first. The measures are a mess, what with ounces, milliliters, cups, grams, etc. If you write out what’s needed and assemble it all before you start, you’ll see that the recipe makes sense and isn’t very difficult after all.
Just as an aside, this is a warts-and-all presentation.
I had a minor goof with the cross-strands, as you will see. I also tell you how to avoid my mistake.
Ingredients for Christopsomo
|Mahlepi||1 tbsp||15 ml|
|Mastic||1 tsp||5 ml|
|Salt||2 tsp||10 ml|
|Dry yeast||2 Tbsp||30 ml||Divided|
|Honey||2 tsp||10 ml|
|Warm water||5 1/2||155|
|Dried figs||1 1/3 cup||320 ml|
|Chopped walnuts||1 cup||240 ml|
|Golden raisins||2/3 cup||160 ml|
|All Purpose flour||4 Tbsp||60 ml|
|Grated orange peel||4 tsp||20 ml|
|6 eggs, room temp|
You can substitute 2 tsp / 10 ml crushed aniseed and 1 tsp / 5 ml cinnamon for the mahlepi.
|Lt corn syrup||1/2 cup||120 ml|
|Honey||1/4 cup||60 ml|
|Fresh O J||2 fl oz||60 ml|
|Mahlepi||1/8 tsp||big pinch|
You can substitute a pinch of crushed aniseed and a pinch of cinnamon for the mahlepi
18 walnut halves.
For the Poolish
1. Make a poolish of 5 1/2 ounces each bread flour and water and 1/2 teaspoon yeast.
2. Let this sit on the counter for at least 2 hours, even overnight.
3. Don’t forget to count this flour and water in for the total.
4. This will account for all the water for this recipe.
For the Glaze
1. Simmer all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat for 15 minutes.
3. Let cool to lukewarm.
1. Chop the dates and the walnuts, being sure to to remove the hard stem portion of the dates.
2. Heat butter with the milk and the first honey in a heavy saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring to dissolve honey. Mix in mahlepi. Cool to lukewarm.
3. Crush mastic and add to mahlepi mixture.
4. Stir yeast and second honey into the poolish in a large bowl.
5. Let stand until foamy.
6. Toss figs, walnuts and raisins with the first flour in a bowl or plastic bag to coat.
7. Stir milk mixture, some of the flour and the orange peel into the yeast until smooth.
8. Mix in eggs one at a time.
9. Blend in the remaining flour slowly until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms.
10. Knead in all the fruit and nuts.
11. Set aside covered for 40 minutes.
12. Add salt and knead for 5-8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. It may feel oily, but it won’t feel very sticky.
13. Set to rise in a large greased bowl.
14. Let rise for 40 minutes, then fold. Let rise another 30 minutes and fold again. Let rise a third time, 25 minutes.
15. Place dough on counter and fold again. Let rest 10 minutes.
16. Divide in two, then pinch off two 6-ounce / 170 gram pieces from each loaf. Divide each piece in two.
17. Shape the remaining doughs into balls and flatten somewhat. (I forgot to do this.)
18. Roll the four small balls out into long strands, long enough to enable you to cut 4-inch / 10 cm slits in each end of each strand and still span most of the dough.
19. Place two strands in a cross on each dough and curl the ends that you snipped outward and curl back onto the loaf.
20. Place a walnut half in the center of each curl and in the center of the dough where the strands cross.
21. Heat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Use tiles. Place rack in the middle of the oven. (The recipe says to put the rack in the lower third, but I burned a loaf like that.)
22. Brush with the cooled glaze and let rise for 40 minutes.
23. Brush with glaze.
24. Bake for 20 minutes, without steam, then turn the loaves. Finish baking, about 25 minutes more. I target an internal temperature of 185-190 F / 85-87C.
25. Take breads out of the oven and brush with the glaze.
Here we go! Yasu!
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