Whereas Christmas is celebrated in Greece in much the same way as it is globally (Christmas trees,presents, blinking lights, stuffed turkey), Easter is, for us, a unique feast of special foods, traditions ,and most of all, huge, noisy, and long anticipated family gatherings.
Sweet breads flavored with mastic (tsourekia) and Easter cookies, (koulourákia) are the most popular treats every housewife makes annually for the family and to give away to friends. Of course everyone has this or her own recipe for those special treats. Well, almost everyone did, because in my home town we all shared the same ‘’secret” recipe. It was very common in small towns during the 80’s and 90’s, before the big super markets arrived, to buy all food supplies from the local grocer. So, during the week leading up to Easter, we would simply ask for the ingredients needed to make 3-4 kilos of Easter cookies.
Home produced eggs and milk were used if available but the exact quantity of the other ingredients for the recipe like fresh butter, sugar, vanilla and special cookies flour were known by the grocer and handed out according to the kilos required in each case.
We became so attached to that recipe which was followed during all of my childhood years, that before the store owner retired, we made sure to get that foolproof recipe written down and have used it ever since.
Makes about 80 cookies
500gr self raising flour
(or 500gr all purpose flour and 2tsps baking powder)
70gr melted butter
180gr granulated sugar
In a stand mixer bowl add the eggs and sugar and mix with the wire attachment until they turn creamy and yellow. Add milk, vanilla and butter and mix until incorporated. Finally add the flour to the egg mixture and with the hook attachment mix until flour disappears and a firm, elastic dough forms. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30min.
Preheat the oven to 180 C and line baking pans with parchment paper.
Take small pieces of the dough (the size of a small walnut) and on your working area, roll out each piece by hand to a ‘’pencil’’ thin rope. Cut the rope in two pieces, bring one piece next to the other and twist them to form a cookie. Arrange the cookies on the baking pan and bake for 15-20min until golden. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack and store them in a cookie box for 3-4 weeks. They are wonderful with a glass of milk or with coffee.