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I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

the CULTIVATING

journal

Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies)

April 15, 2020



 

When my husband and I were first married, I worked part time at a local Greek Deli, making sandwiches and selling meat and cheese by the pound. The owner of the deli was a Greek woman who’d married a military man and as such, had given up her home country to tour the world with him. He’d retired from the military in Florida, and since they were there for the long haul, they’d opened a deli, which from what I could tell, had been more her dream than his.

I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life, and while I’d never classify my years behind that cobalt blue counter at the deli as the best job I’ve ever had, it was rewarding in a way that many of the jobs that came after it, were not. Our regular clientele consisted of soldiers in BDU’s and contractors working out at the base. Most of them were respectful and professional, in for a quick lunch before heading back to the office. And a good many of them were regulars, which made them feel less like customers and more like friends. Having grown up in a military family, this was the most “at home” I’d felt anywhere. I knew how Mike liked his roast beef sandwich, (without regular mayonnaise, but with extra aioli sauce). I knew that Tom would be immediately happier any day that he came in and the lunch special was a Gyro and chips for only $5.

After I’d been working at the deli for over a year, my boss and her family decided to take a two-week trip to Greece to see her family, which left me running the shop in her absence. In preparation for her absence, she taught me how to make a couple of her coveted sauces, recipes I had previously not had access to, and she swore me to secrecy.

Before leaving me with the keys to the store, she also made sure I knew how to place our weekly orders for supplies, meats, cheeses and a selection of pastries we kept in the dessert case. We ordered in the chocolate cake and the tiramisu, but there were two things that she made from scratch—her Baklava and her Koulourakia. Both of which she over baked before leaving town.

Years later, I still miss the tastes and smells of that deli. Since leaving the deli, I have made a few of her dishes from memory, her baklava, her red pepper aioli, her Muffuletta. Then last year, while trying to figure out how to make a unicorn horn for my daughter’s birthday cake, I remembered the Koulourakia. I suppose the cookie came to mind because of its twisted shape, and its sturdiness. This turned out to be the perfect solution to my unicorn horn situation, and offered a wonderful opportunity to introduce my children to a new-to-them sweet, and a few stories of my past—before they were born.

Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies)

These are tender cookies with a soft texture inside, and a hint of orange flavor. Light, not overly sweet and perfect with a cup of tea or some strong Greek coffee.

You Will Need:

3 ½ Cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

¾ Cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 orange

½ Cup of butter (cubed, at room temperature)

2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk (at room temperature)

1 ½ tsp. Real Vanilla extract

¼ cup Fresh squeezed orange juice

¼ Milk (at room temperature)

Baking mat for rolling out/shaping dough

 

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk

2 TBSP water

Sesame seeds (optional—I don’t use them on my cookies)

 

Process:

Preheat your oven to 375

In a bowl (or stand mixer), whisk together Orange zest and Sugar

Add in cubed Butter and mix until fluffy (This might take 3-5 minutes, be sure to scrape down the bowl multiple times during this process)

Add the Eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl and beating the mix in between

Add the Egg yolk, (scrape and mix)

Add Vanilla extract, Orange juice and Milk

With the mixer on low, add in the Flour and baking powder. (If the dough is too sticky, add a tiny bit more flour. The dough should not be sticky.) At this point you can chill the dough or go ahead and shape it. 

Scoop a small ball of dough into your hand, about a 2-3-inch ball—about the size of a golf ball, and roll in into a 7-8-inch rope. Turn your rope into a twist, a braid (use two ropes for this), a pinwheel, or whatever other shape you want.

Place cookies on parchment-lined or greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart

Brush with Egg wash and bake for 10-13 minutes, or until golden.

Transfer semi-cooled cookies to cooling rack before storing in an air-tight container.

Cookies will keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, or longer if frozen.

Note:

*Some traditional recipes include a single teaspoon of Ouzo (an anise flavored alcohol from Greece) added to the cookie dough.



The featured images are courtesy of Kris Camealy and used with her gracious permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.



 

Kris Camealy

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