Thank you to Rena Gyftopoulos for sharing her late mother’s tsoureki vasilopita recipe! According to Rena, Artemis E. Gyftopoulos was the queen of culture. Her much-loved recipe is perfect for making a large batch of breads to share and enjoy!
2 envelopes active dry yeast
2 cups milk
½ lb unsalted butter + another ½ stick
2 cups sugar
3 lbs King Arthur flour
½ Tbs each of ground mahlepi and mastiha
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs vanilla for brushing the tops
Slivered or halved blanched almonds and sesame seeds for decoration
- In a small pan, melt the butter and add milk.
- In a small bowl, test the yeast: add yeast, a small amount of warm water (1/4 cup), 2 TBS sugar and let rest for 10 minutes. If the yeast puffs up, it’s ok.
- In bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs and process adding the sugar. Add the milk and butter and the yeast. Add 2.5 lbs of the flour together with the mastiha and mahlepi, and process with the hook attachment until well mixed.
- Add more flour so that the result is a dough that does not hold its shape—not too dry.
- Butter a large china or stainless steel bowl with some of the extra melted butter. Put the dough in the bowl and cover the dough directly with saran wrap so that it will not dry out. Put the bowl in a pre-warmed oven (at 120 degrees, or turn it on for 3 minutes and turn it off.) Let rise for about 2 hours. It should double.
- Butter 3 10” or 4 9” pans and divide the dough between them (with this recipe you can get 6 8” vasilopitas.)
- Shape dough into balls on a floured surface and put in pans. Allow to rise to double for one hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 325. Brush the vasilopitas with one egg beaten with 1 Tbs vanilla. Write the year on the vasilopitas with slivered or halved blanched almonds, and brush the almonds with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Insert a lucky coin into each bread after baking.