Baking For Easter With Mum
Mum and I have been baking these together since I was a kid. Even when I was going through my teenage phase of “I’m not Greek, I’m Goth/Heavy Metal/Indie” I still baked these with mum. If mum had her way, we would have done the church thing and the fasting thing but she didn’t have her way…dad did…hated the church (and still does and ain’t giving up meat for anybody…and yes, not even Jesus!) He felt that that’s what you got for being a nice guy…Crucified!
Cynical man, my dad…
My partner is half Greek and half Italian so we did a Good Friday thing last week with his dad and wife, whom I suspect also don’t understand the point of Easter. So, you eat fish on Good Friday, you know, keep it simple…fish comes from the sea as do oysters, prawns and scallops…so it was a seafood fest with a white chocolate mud cake I had made for dessert. I just kept thinking that this wasn’t right. This is not a celebratory day but a day of mourning…are we meant to eat cake? My parents came too and as it wasn’t their Easter, had a ball…scoffed more than a dozen oysters and a kilo of prawns between them and were quite jolly indeed.
So, we are eating our decadent cake and drinking coffee and I overhear a conversation my mum is having with my partner’s stepmum. It went something like this (it helps if you say it in a Greek/Aussie accent)…”Yes, I so tired and my hands theys always hurting. I want my daughters to making the biscuits but ever year this daughter here, she call me to say, ‘we do biscuits together to my house?’ and what I do? I say yes…”
I mean WHAT? All these years I thought she would be devastated if I didn’t bake with her and all this time she was only doing it for me and didn’t really want to? What the Hell!!! Did this mean that all these years I didn’t need to cram in the Easter baking when I was exhausted and could’ve been lounging on my couch with a book or napping or lunching with friends? I could have bought the biscuits? Yes, apparently this was exactly what it meant. We had a few words about it today, a bit of squabbling and every now and then I threw in things like “Oh, our last Easter baking session…sigh!” In typical Greek mother fashion she replied, “No worries, this time next year I be dead for sure!” So I cut out the sarcasm and just rolled, shaped, glazed and sesame seeded the biscuits and held my tongue.
There are many different recipes out there and today I wrote down the recipe mum uses. It’s not written down, it’s in her head. How much flour? As much as it needs…I think we used just over 2 kilos but could’ve been a bit more.
Below is the standard recipe. We tripled it.
So, here goes and hope everyone had a Happy Easter, and, if you’re Greek, I hope you have a Happy Easter this week.
Easter Biscuits (Koulourakia)
4 1/2 cups S.R Flour
1 tspn baking powder
4 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup sunflower oil (or 125g unsalted butter at room temperature)
grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 small pkt vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
egg & milk for glazing
sesame seeds for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 160C and line baking trays with baking paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
Using hand held beaters, cream the butter and sugar. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then add to the butter and sugar mixture.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold gently into the batter. Stir in the vanilla and lemon or orange zest, then add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough for about 2 – 3 minutes. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into your desired shapes and arrange on the prepared baking tray. The most common shapes are twists, rounds and plaits.
Beat milk and 1 egg in a bowl and use to brush each biscuit. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.