Grandma’s Choreg (Armenian Easter Bread)

choreg side view close up

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. 

 Choreg top view with butter and seeds

 

    

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.

Choreg side view baked

Grandma's Choreg (Armenian Easter Bread)

Print Recipe
Serves: ~3 loaves Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground mahleb*
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground mastika*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs

Instructions

1

Warm 1/2 cup of the milk in a small bowl until it is lukewarm (or 100-110 degrees F). Add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until it has bloomed and frothy.

2

In a small pot or bowl, melt the butter. Add the rest of the milk, and stir in the sugar. Let mixture cool to lukewarm (we do not want to kill the yeast when we add it).

3

Measure flour into a bowl. Add the mahleb, mastica, and salt. Mix together.

4

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.

5

In a large bowl, mix together the butter mixture and eggs. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring between each addition with a wooden spoon. When the dough gets too stiff to mix, switch to your hands.

6

Knead dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (about 7-10 minutes)it is ok if it still sticks a bit to the bottom. 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).

7

Lightly oil the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise in a warm area for 2-3 hours (dough should double in size).

8

Roll portions of the dough into 9 even-sized balls (~1/2 cup each). 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.

9

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 the remaining dough.

10

Cover braided loaves with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise for about 1 hour.

11

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add blanched almonds to the creases in the dough where the pleats meat.

12

Beat 1 egg in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of 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 egg wash. Sprinkle loaves with sesame seeds and nigella seeds.

13

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).

14

Let bread cool on a baking sheet. Enjoy!

Notes

* You can find mahleb and mastik in most middle eastern grocery stores. I grind mine with a mortar and pestle

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Mari Lee Richmond -Touche
    November 19, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Mara , The first time I tasted this bread was either at your grandparents home or at the home of Arlene , the fall after we had worked together at Delmonte in the Pines . Your mom had invited me to spend the weekend with her so I made the trip from Lyndhurst Ontario to her home and the evening I arrived I was given a slice of this bread. I still remember the sweet exotic flavor which I had never before experienced in any bread product. I will definitely try this recipe. thank you so much for posting it along with your memories.

  • Reply
    Leo
    December 26, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    I actually have two questions before trying this recipe:
    1. If we knead the dough longer than 5 minutes by hand, is it going to affect the texture of the choreg?
    2. Does the mastika play an important role in the taste of the choreg?

    Your recipe looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it! Thank you!

    • Reply
      mara_admin
      December 27, 2020 at 9:08 am

      Hi Leo! You can knead it more than 5 minutes by hand- it’s very hard to overhead dough if doing it by hand!

      The mastika I usually put in because that’s how I was taught- but I have left it out on occasion when I run out and I don’t find it makes really any difference. The mahleb on the other hand really lends that traditional choreg flavour :). Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Leo
    April 2, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    Hello Mara! I just wanted to say that I’ve made this recipe a lot of times and adjusted it to my liking. Firstly, instead of putting 1/2 packet of instant yeast, I put the whole package because my dough wasn’t rising no matter how many times I did it. Also, I dissolved it directly in the milk instead of the water. By the way I didn’t put any water in the bread. Secondly, I didn’t use baking powder. Also I added 1/2 teaspoon more mahleb than what the recipe said. Finally, for the dough assembly, instead of adding melted butter with the rest of the ingredients, I softened it and incorporated it into the dough when it was formed. This method allows the gluten to form better in order to better retain the gases emitted by the yeast. I did this approach, because previously I had problems with the dough not rising. Thank you so much for the recipe! The choreg is delicious!

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