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Recipe for koulourakia

Koulourakia out of the oven. Michele McDonald for the boston globe

Makes about 60 cookies

Michele McDonald for the boston globe

For Greek Easter, these traditional cookies are glazed with egg and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The recipe calls for both baking powder and ammonium carbonate (baker’s ammonia), a traditional leavening ingredient. After a few days, if you like, refresh the cookies to their just-baked light crispness
by heating them on a baking sheet in a
350-degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes.

1cup sugar
1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
Grated rind of 1 orange
Grated rind of ½ lemon
½cup whole milk
5teaspoons baking powder
1teaspoon ammonium carbonate
(baker's ammonia)
¾teaspoon Greek vanilla powder (such as Krinos Vanillin) or 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
About 5¼-6 cups flour
1egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
(for the glaze)
cup sesame seeds

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In an electric mixer, beat the 3 eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add the butter and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until only tiny bits of butter remain. Beat in the orange and lemon rind.


3. In a bowl, combine the milk, baking powder, and ammonium carbonate; stir to blend. The mixture will bubble up and become thick and foamy. Scrape the foamy milk into the egg mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Beat in the vanilla.

4. With the mixer on low speed, beat in 1 cup of flour. Gradually add 3 more cups of flour and beat until the dough is thick and difficult to mix. Remove the dough caught in the beaters and add it to the remaining dough in the bowl. Sprinkle in about 1 cup more flour and use your hands to work the dough, turning it over and over, so it absorbs the flour. Add about ¼ to 1 cup more flour (a total of 5¼ to 6 cups), as needed, until the dough is no longer sticky. It should feel like soft Play-Doh.

5. Pinch off pieces of dough the size of 1 tablespoon and squeeze them in your hand. Place on a clean work surface and, using both hands, roll into a cord that is 8 to 9 inches long and a little thicker than a pencil.


6. To make twists: Fold each cord in half, placing one half over the other, then cross the bottom half over the top, and repeat for a total of 3 twists. To make spirals (snail shapes): Start making a spiral at each end of the cord to meet in the middle; or start making a spiral from each end, one from the top, the other from the bottom, to form an S shape. Place the cookies about 1½ inches apart on the sheets. Working with one baking sheet at a time, lightly brush the tops of the cookies with egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

7. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, or until light golden, a little browner on the bottoms. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Adapted from Joanna Tsavalakoglou