My all time favorite recipe. It is delicious freshly baked but will keep very well for days wrapped in plastic or foil. Because it takes long time to make it, I always double the recipe.

2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
¼ cup warm milk
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon mastic
About ½ cup milk
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons mahleb, pulverized
2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
½ cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon cream

Chopped almonds and/or hazelnuts

  • To make the sponge, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk and let stand in a warm place 10 minutes until frothy.
  • Stir in the flour, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 30 minutes.
  • Tie the mastic in a folded piece of cheesecloth and pound gently to crush it. (I used coffee filter instead of cheesecloth).
  • Place bag in a small saucepan with milk and simmer 20 minutes. If the milk evaporates too quickly, add a little more.
  • Remove from the heat, take out the bag containing the mastic, hold it above the saucepan and squeeze dry to extract all the liquid; discard the bag.
  • Measure the infused milk and add more if necessary to make ¼ cup. If it exceeds that, boil it briefly to reduce to desired amount and cool to lukewarm.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the center, put in the mahleb, mastic-infused milk, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, butter, and the sponge. Mix the ingredients in the center with fingertips and gradually work in the flour to make a soft dough.
  • The dough is very soft and sticky, and it is best to knead it in a mixer. Using the dough hook, knead about 5 minutes. It will be a sticky and gummy mixture. Turn it onto a floured work surface and knead at least 5 more minutes by hand, until the dough is very smooth and springy.
  • Put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place about 3 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  • Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface, roll into a log, and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into tight balls, cover them with a barely damp towel, and let rise 20 minutes.
  • Roll each ball into a 20-inch rope, slightly plump in the middle and tapered at the ends. Let them rest, covered, 20 minutes, and then shape 3 ropes into a braid. Pinch the ends and tuck under. Do the same with the other 3 ropes.
  • Place the braids in a greased baking pan, and let rise until almost double in bulk. This will take 1 to 3 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.
  • Preheat the oven 350°F.
  • Mix the egg yolk with the cream and brush over the bread. Wait 5 minutes and brush with the glaze once more.
  • Sprinkle the top with nuts.
  • Bake the bread 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the thickest part comes out clean. It should be gloriously golden brown and very fragrant. Cool on a rack.

Source: Classical Turkish Cooking – Ayla E. Algar

  1. I love paskalya bread, what does “mastic” and mahlep pulverized mean?
    Thank you

  2. Aliye,
    No, I do not have a published book.

    Mastic is “an aromatic exudate from the mastic tree”.

    “Mahlab, Mahleb, or Mahlepi, is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry.”

    If you have a Turkish, or middle eastern market nearby, you can find both of these ingredients in there.


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