Local Ladies' Group Has Its Own Bread-Making Tradition

By McKay, Gretchen | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), March 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Local Ladies' Group Has Its Own Bread-Making Tradition


McKay, Gretchen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Bread has long played a vital role in Greek Orthodox religious ceremonies and holidays, but there's only a few times a year people outside the community can sample the traditional loaves made for those occasions.

Easter is one them, and so last week members of the ladies' group Philoptochos, the philanthropic arm of Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church of Aliquippa, were hard at work in Mediterra Bakehouse's commercial kitchen in Robinson, baking hundreds of loaves of a sweet braided yeast bread called tsoureki.

Similar in looks and taste to brioche, tsoureki is the traditional bread of Easter in Greek households. These loaves, however, will be sold at several local stores to raise money for the poor and national disasters.

"The Ambeloitis family has been gracious enough to not only allow us to use their facility, equipment and ovens, but also donate some of the products and work with us to produce the bread," first vice president Violet Rubino writes in an email. This is the ninth year for the fundraiser.

Like many ethnic Easter breads, tsoureki is made with eggs, milk and butter. What makes it unique is the addition of mastic, a rare and expensive resin obtained from a shrub that only grows on the Greek island of Chios. Or as Ms. Rubino tells me, "You will taste something that you cannot identify and you will like it. …

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