Greek Easter Cookies – Koulourakia

Koulourakia (Greek: κουλουράκια) are traditional Greek cookies, typically made at Easter to be eaten after Holy Saturday.

They are a butter-based pastry, traditionally hand-shaped, with egg glaze on top. They have a sweet delicate flavor with a hint of vanilla. Koulourakia are well known for their sprinkle of sesame seeds and distinctive ring shape. In fact, the word is the diminutive form for a ring-shaped loaf or lifebelt. These pastries were also often shaped like small snakes by the Minoans, as they worshiped the snake for its healing powers.

Now the pastries can be shaped into braided circles, hairpin twists, figure eights, twisted wreaths, horseshoes or Greek letters, although they are still often shaped into a snake style. They are commonly eaten with morning coffee or afternoon tea. Like all pastries, they are normally kept in dry conditions in a jar with a lockable lid. 

Photo by mygreekdish

Photo by mygreekdish

Often, a clove is added atop the center of the pastry for added flavor. (source wikipedia)

Here is our favorite and traditional recipe by mygreekdish.com

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The fluffiest and crunchiest Greek Easter cookies (koulourakia) you have ever tasted! These sweet little Greek Easter cookies are super quick to bake, so much fun to make and highly addictive to eat! So consider yourself warned 🙂 This  easy to follow traditional Greek koulourakia recipe makes 90 of these delicious festive Greek Easter cookies, plenty for everyone to try. And best of all? Have fun with the whole family kneading the koulourakia into braids, boats, little ‘S’s just like in the photos below! Serve over a hot cup of coffee and you have a match made in heaven…

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As most holidays in Greece revolve around food, Greek Easter is no exception! These are the days when households are preparing delicious meals for the Easter Sunday and making all these delicious traditional Greek recipes, like lamb, kontosouvli, magiritsa, dyed Greek Easter eggs, tsoureki and of course these amazing Greek Easter cookies (koulourakia). Greek koulourakia recipes are characterised by a butter base, shiny egg glaze (which makes them beautifully golden brown) and various rising agents  to make them fluffy and airy. Nowadays most koulourakia recipes call for baking powder and baking soda, but experience has shown me that nothing compares to the traditional koulourakia recipe, which calls for baking ammonia. Ammonia makes the koulourakia amazingly airy and crunchy and compared to other rising agents, the crispness will last longer. This is an old fashioned traditional Greek koulourakia recipe for you to recreate this delicious traditional delight from scratch!

Ingredients

  • 250g butter (8.8 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2.5g powdered baking ammonia (1 and a half tea spoons)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1kg all-purpose flour  (35 oz.)
  • 2 egg yolks and 1 tbsp water for glazing the koulourakia

Instructions

  1. To prepare this traditional koulourakia recipe, start by mixing the butter and sugar. In a mixer’s bowl add the sugar and butter (chopped) and mix for about 10-15 minutes, until the butter is creamy and fluffy. (Once starting to prepare this koulourakia recipe, make sure that the butter is at room temperature).
  2. In the meantime warm the milk until lukewarm and remove the pot from the heat. Add the ammonia and blend until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Add the eggs (in the butter-sugar) mixture one at a time, whilst mixing, allowing time for each one to be absorbed, before adding another. Pour in the the vanilla extract, the orange zest and milk (with the ammonia) and mix to combine. Add the flour, a little bit at a time, whilst mixing, until the ingredients are combined and the dough is soft and not too sticky.
  4. Cover the dough for the koulourakia with some plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Place the dough for the koulourakia on a clean working surface, take a small piece of dough and form long cords. Shape the koulourakia with your hands, giving them any shape you like. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and place the koulourakia, leaving some distance between them as they will rise a lot when baked. (For this koulourakia recipe, you will need approx. 4-5 large baking trays, depending on the size of the cookies)
  6. In a small bowl add the egg yolks and 1 tbsp water and whisk with a fork. Brush the top of the koulourakia and bake in preheated oven at 200C for 15 minutes, until nicely coloured.
  7. Let the koulourakia cool down completely and store in airtight containers for up to three weeks.

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