Egg is one of the main ingredients used in koulourakia.
Koulouraki is a type of light Greek pastry, only slightly sweet and usually served during the Easter holidays. The main ingredients are butter, eggs, sugar and flour, although flavorings such as cloves, Ouzo, nutmeg or vanilla are sometimes added. The shape of koulourakia distinguishes them from similar sweet pastries, because the dough is often twisted, braided, or rolled. The surface of the dough is treated with egg wash to help brown and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Pastries are often eaten with tea or coffee or served as a snack throughout the day.
Like koulourakia, kulich can be served at Easter time.
The basic traditional koulouraki dough starts with butter and sugar, which are mixed together until they form a homogeneous mixture, a process called butter cream. Eggs are fully incorporated into the mixture. If additional liquid ingredients such as vanilla, ouzo or cream are being used, they will also be added to the wet mix.
The dry ingredients of koulourakia are sieved together. It is usually flour, baking soda and a small amount of salt. The dry ingredients are added to the wet ingredients and the entire mixture is stirred until the dough is thick but not too sticky to the touch. At this point, any flavoring – such as mahlep, which is made from cherry pits or sliced almonds – can be added.
There are several ways to implement koulourakia. The most common way is to form a single piece of dough into a rope shape, bring the two ends together and twist once or twice until the dough presses gently against itself. Another way is to take a single piece of dough and form a spiral. Other forms of koulourakia include braids made from two or three separate pieces of dough, letters of the Greek alphabet, and even the shape of a hand.
The molded dough is covered in an egg wash before being taken to the oven to bake. The wash, consisting only of eggs and water, is passed over the surface of the raw dough. During baking, egg washing will help to create a shiny, golden surface on the dough. If the sesame seeds are being sprinkled over the koulourakia before baking, washing the egg will also help keep the seeds in place while the dough rises in the oven. Once ready, the koulourakia are placed in the oven and roasted until slightly puffed and golden on the surface, and can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container for later use.