Koulourakias or a cookie from my past.
Woosh, it has been insanely busy around my life lately. Getting a spare moment to myself has been nigh impossible - I traveled out of town, to Ohio, for a wedding and visited people, I moved, I wallowed in despair, I got a job, and I even worked a few days of it! But in the midst of all this, I still had time to make koulourakias - Greek butter cookies - for Pascha (Eastern Orthodox Easter).
I was raised Greek Orthodox (and Russian Orthodox, later) despite the fact that my family is neither Greek nor Russian. Depending on which church we went to, Christmas was either on, you know, Christmas or it was on Jan 7. But the one thing that both churches shared was the fact that Easter is (almost) always one week or one month after the Western Easter. This year, it was a week later.
Anyway. My godmother was from Greece - we met her when my family joined the church, I was young - somewhere around fourth grade - and while my brother had found a god-family relatively quickly, they didn't want a girl and so I was adrift. Georgia offered to be my godmother and lo! I had a godmother and a yiayia (her mother, who spoke absolutely no English at all and would pat my hand and say something to me and I would smile and say "yes, yiayia" but I have no idea what she said...). At any rate, Georgia would make koulouriakias for me each Pascha. I loved them.
I'm not religious, I haven't been for a long time, but each Pascha I get a little nostalgic. Georgia died when I was in high school, she had cancer. I'd never made these cookies and she didn't teach me how, but I am telling you that these taseted exactly how I remembered.
- one stick butter, softened
- half cup of sugar
- two eggs, beaten until light
- grated orange peel (original recipe suggested a teaspoon, but I did a little more)
- half tablespoon baking powder
- two cups flour
- combine flour and baking powder
- in a seperate bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then slowly add the beaten eggs and the orange zest. Add the flour/baking powder mixture slowly. You will get a soft dough.
- shape the cookies by taking sections and rolling them first into a ball (walnut sized) and then out into ropes that you can braid together or twist into a circle or spiral or, you know, really anything.
- I put mine on foil on a cookie sheet, then brushed the tops with some beaten egg and baked at 375 degrees for around twenty minutes - until the cookies were golden!
I did a few batches at different cook times, but was pleased with all of them. Twenty minutes gets a bit harder cookie, but you can play until you figure out what you like. This makes a fair few cookies.
And oh, how I loved them. Everyone loved them! I hope you love them too.
(yes, there are many different variations on this cookie - some have vanilla, some have sesame seeds, and I love sesame seeds! I've had them with sesame and I think they are delish. But this is how Georgia must have made them, cause this is how they tasted.)