Choreg is a favourite in my family. It is the classic Armenian Easter bread that my grandmother made every year. As a child, I would sit in the kitchen and “help” her make it, which mostly consisted of me waiting for opportune moments to steal bits of dough.
As I grew older, I became very involved in helping my grandmother every year as she made over 20 loaves of bread for her church, and our family. It was such a special time for us. We would spend an entire day in the kitchen, making bread, talking, and eating. I can’t think of a better time.
My grandmother passed away unexpectedly this past summer. She was 86 years young, and the most vibrant woman I had ever met. She was a force to be reckoned with. I can’t describe the heartbreak and loss I felt when she was gone. I had lost one of my best friends, my mentor. She was so much more than a grandmother to me.
Leading up to Easter this year, it felt imperative that I carry on the tradition of baking Choreg for my family. Although we are physically isolating from each other with the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering bread and feeding my family felt so much like something my grandma would have done at this time.
When I made the dough at my house, the smell of the spices brought back such intense scent memories it almost unnerved me. It felt like I was back in my grandmothers kitchen with her by my side. And I know she was there with me, the whole time I was baking.
I delivered the bread to my family, after the second rise so that they could finish braiding and baking the dough themselves. Partly for sanitization sake, and also so they could participate in the process, even if we were not together. I received photos of the finished breads from each family member I dropped off the bread to. And I know my grandmother was there, smiling down on us.
Choreg is an egg fortified sweet bread, almost like a mix between challah or brioche, with more sugar and more density. We enjoy it plain, or with a spread of butter. I have even made it into cinnamon buns! I hope you can enjoy this classic recipe.
Grandma's Choreg (Armenian Easter Bread)Print Recipe
- 1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 packet active dry yeast (about 4g)
- 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons finely ground mahleb*
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground mastika*
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
Melt butter. Add milk and gradually stir in sugar until dissolved.
Add the yeast to 2 tablespoons lukewarm water. Wait 5 minutes until frothy.
Measure flour into a large bowl. Add the mahleb and mastica, baking powder, salt. Mix together.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.
Pour 1/2 the butter mixture into an empty bowl. Add half of the flour 1 cup at a time.
Add the yeast, and eggs, and rest of the butter mixture and the flour 1 cup at a time. Mix by hand or with a wooden spoon until it is too hard to mix. Then use your hands.
Knead dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (about 7-10 minutes). You can also do this in a stand mixer with the dough attachment for about 5 minutes or so. You may need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky (add 1-3 tbsp at a time)
Lightly oil the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let dough rise in a warm area for 2-3 hours (dough should double in size).
Roll portions of the dough into 9 even sized balls. Place on a lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. keep somewhere warm to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
To make a loaf, take 3 balls of the risen dough. Roll each into a rope, and braid together to form a loaf. Tuck each end under slightly. Place braided loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Cover braided loaves with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add blanched almonds to the creases in the dough where the pleats meat.
Beat 1 egg in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons water to make an egg wash (this will make the bread shiny and help the seeds stick). Brush each loaf with a thin layer of the egg wash. Sprinkle loaves with sesame seeds and nigella seeds.
Bake loaves in the top 1/3 of the oven for about 28-30 minutes or until golden brown (You may need to use 2 baking sheets to avoid burning the underside of the loaves).
Let bread cool on baking sheet. Enjoy!
* You can find mahleb and mastik in most middle eastern grocery stores. I grind mine with a mortar and pestle