Welcome to Sisters' Sintages, a blog about family, traditions, and good food.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Koulourakia

When Vivian and I were young, our mother had a hand written recipe book which was written in a little flip notepad. The recipes had been given to her by a co-worker in the fur industry who was from Asia Minor. The Greeks from Asia Minor had a reputation as wonderful cooks.The recipe for the Easter koulourakia called for enormous quantities of eggs, butter, sugar and flour. These were the days before mixers and food processors. Everything had to be mixed by hand, literally. First we would soften the butter by squeezing it in our hands in the giant metal basin our mother used on these baking occasions. Then we would add the sugar and keep working it until the sugar was almost dissolved in the butter. We slowly added the rest of the ingredients, ending with the flour. We would then oil up our hands to help in the shaping of the koulourakia. This part was the most fun. We made little braids,circles, s shapes, snail shapes and something called 'smerneika' which were concentric oval shapes with the oval ends pinched. They reminded me of what Cleopatra's eye make-up looked like. The formed shapes were then brushed with beaten egg and sprinkled with sesame seeds. As the youngest, this was my job. Vivian or our mom usually did the hard work of mixing. Finally they were ready for the oven. Now you have to understand that this recipe was not for a family of four. It was a recipe that Vivian and I said would feed the entire Greek Army. One year, after my mother had started working, the preparation and baking of the koulourakia fell to Vivian and myself. We started enthusiastically, following the sacred directions, written in Greek of course. We had only two baking pans and a tempremental oven to work with, but we labored on and on. After about three hours, we still had at least half the dough left in the metal basin. We were tired to the bone, but what to do? I don't remember whose idea it was, but we decided to dump the rest of the dough in the garbage. That's exactly what we did and we snuck the garbage bag out of the apartment, so our mother wouldn't find it. When our mother finally came home from work, she couldn't understand why there weren't as many koulourakia that year. Of course we never told her that we had thrown half the dough away! Below is Yiayia's recipe for koulourakia, followed by one that I adapted over the years. Whenever a Greek cook gives her recipe to someone else she always ends it with 'Kali Epitihia', so to all of you reading this 'Kali Epitihia'!

Yiayia's Koulourakia

I pound of sweet (unsalted) butter
4 cups of sugar
1 glass of milk
Juice of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11 teaspoons baking powder
1 dose of baker's ammonia
12 eggs
Flour, as much as it will take( approximately 5lbs)

Heat the butter to soften and then beat the butter, but not alot. Separate the egg whites and beat them into the butter. Beat the eggs yolks and add them to the butter batter. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk,orange juice, vanilla extract followed by the baking powder , baker's ammonia. Mix well and then start adding the flour. ( The dough should be pliable and slightly sticky).
This all that is written in the original recipe. I do know that our mom would add ground up masticha to her koulourakia because we are from Chios and masticha is a much favored flavoring for Chiotes. About 1/2 a teaspoon is more than enough. The formed koulourakia are the brushed with a beaten egg and sprinkled with sesame seed. They can also be left plain. Bake in a 350 F oven until golden brown. (Watch carefully because the bottoms can scorch easily)

Pauline's Koulourakia

2 cups (1pound) sweet butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground masticha
10 cups flour
7 teaspoons baking powder
beaten egg for brushing tops
sesame seeds

Cream the softened butter and gradually add the sugar. Add the eggs, orange juice , vegetable oil, vanilla extract ang ground masticha. Sift the flour and the baking powder together and gradually add to the wet mixture to make a soft dough. Shape dough into the traditional shapes.
Place on cooky sheets. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in 350 F ovenand bake until golden. Makes about 8 to 10 dozen small cookies depending on the size you make.

"Kali Epitihia "

1 comment:

  1. I remember that particular Easter preparation well. I also remember living on the 25 floor of the Bridge apt. at the time. When it was time to dispose of the unused dough, you held the door of our aptartment open while I ran out and dumped the dough in the incinerator. There were no traces of it left behind...