A few years ago, Caterina presented me with a vintage style, embossed book filled with blank pages. She had recently purchased one for herself, with the purpose of passing it around to her friends and family for them each to share their signature recipe in. What a brilliant concept, I thought. I loved the idea that she would have such a beautiful collection of hand-written recipes from all the people in her life, something that she could eventually pass onto her children. And I was grateful to her for passing the wonderful idea onto me. We didn’t know it at the time, but I think that was the unofficial beginning to the Sydney Food Sister journey.
This time of year, two years ago, that beautiful book was responsible for saving a family recipe that could have been lost forever. I recall my mother calling me in a mild panic the week before Easter. “Effi, do you have my Easter Koulouri recipe written down in that book of yours?” The poor darling couldn’t decipher the smudged and faded words of the Easter biscuit recipe she had documented some 30 years ago. Thank goodness I had taken notes the year before when making koulouria with her! I remember shaking my head at the time, I couldn’t believe that my mother was ringing me for her own recipe, something she had been making for so many years!
Recipes can be lost and forgotten in the blink of an eye, and with that can come the loss of family traditions. This reminder could not have come at a more befitting and beautiful time, as we journey through the final week of Lent in the Orthodox faith, and all the beautiful traditions that come with it. I thank Caterina every year at Easter time for buying me that beautiful book. She saved a recipe that generations in our family will continue to enjoy every Easter!
- 250 grams unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 8 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- the juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 7 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Using an electric mixer (we use a Kitchenaid), beat the butter until it is creamy and fluffy, approximately 4 minutes.
- Add the caster and vanilla sugar, and beat until the sugar is well combined, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla bean paste, and beat until combined
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until well combined. The mixture should have a lovely fluffy texture to it.
- Add the orange juice, milk and baking powder. Beat until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form
- Using the mixer’s lowest speed, gradually add the flour and egg whites, alternating between the two, a bit of each at a time. It is important to keep the mix speed on gentle so that the mixture remains soft and not overworked. If the dough is too stick, gradually add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is soft to handle, and not sticky to touch.
- Prepare your baking trays by lining them with greaseproof paper
- Lightly flour your workbench and your hands. Place a small ball of dough in your hands, and roll it into a ball. Place the ball on the workbench and using the palm of your hand roll the ball forwards and backwards into a thin log shape. Assemble into your desired shapes (long and twisted, round circles, plaited)
- Place on the lined baking tray, leaving 2cm between each koulouri to allow for rising
- Place in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until very slightly golden in colour
This recipe makes approximately 60 koulouria depending on the size of your shapes.
Food photography, story and recipe creation by Effi Tsoukatos & Caterina Sterrantino for the Sydney Food Sisters