Orange and Vanilla Braided Cookies
These orange & vanilla braided cookies are a traditional Greek Orthodox Easter recipe. Originally from Smyrna, they are known as “koulourakia smyrneika”, and are gifted to friends and family over the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations.
Greek Easter (later than Western Easter, because we follow the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian!) is a BIG celebration in Greece. Many families head home to their family islands or villages for big get-togethers. After traditionally being abstemious throughout Lent, Easter is truly a celebration. The table groans under a sumptuous feast - often featuring a roast lamb as centrepiece. These Smyrna cookies are traditionally made on Thursday and enjoyed when the Easter festivities kick off. We often gift them to friends and family, too! Don’t keep these Koulourakia Smyrneika for Greek Easter, though - cook a batch up and take a little bagful to a friend’s house as a treat or dinner party ‘thank you’ present. They’re a super gift!
Have both the unsalted and plant butters in room temperature. Add them in a mixer and mix in medium speed for approximately 5 minutes until you have a smooth and fluffy mixture.
Continue mixing by adding the orange juice, brandy, egg yolk, vanilla extract, orange zest and baking powder.
Once everything is incorporated add the flour and mix until the ingredients are combined and the dough is soft but not too sticky (if it is sticky, you may need to add 30g - 80g extra flour).
Take a small piece of dough and roll it horizontally to create a string. Fold it in half, then twist the two halves together.
Store these cookies in an airtight container and they’ll last up to three weeks.