Melomakarona and Kourambiedes

As Christmas is getting closer we would like to share with you our favourite Christmas recipes: melomakarona and kourambiedes! Happy Baking!

Melomakarona 

2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 loose teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons baking powder
7 cups all purpose flour

Honey Syrup
2 cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups honey
½ cup golden syrup
2 cups water
1 ½ cups roughly chopped walnuts for topping

Preheat the oven to 170C (150 for air) and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.Beat the oil with the sugar until pale. Combine the cognac with the orange juice and baking soda. Add to the sugar mixture and beat to incorporate. Add the cinnamon and cloves and lastly the flour and baking powder. Fold to combine. Form small longish cookies with about 1 tablespoon of the dough at a time and place on the baking sheets.Bake for 30’, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5’. Transfer to a wire rack to cool further while you prepare the syrup. Prepare the honey syrup by combining all the ingredients and cooking over medium heat for about 7’, removing the froth from the top with a slotted spoon.Transfer the cookies to a large serving tray, pour the hot syrup all over them and top with the chopped walnuts.

* bear in mind that for the syrup to stick to the cookies, they need to be lukewarm and the liquid hot

Kourambiedes

½ kg goat butter
½ cup icing sugar for the dough
1 egg
1 liqueur glass cognac
1 kg plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
200 g roughly chopped, blanched and roasted almonds
1 kg icing sugar for coating

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, the egg and the cognac and continue to beat. Combine the flour with the baking soda and gradually add it into the butter mix. Beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Add the almonds and fold to combine. Shape the dough into small round cookies and bake at 180C for about 20′, until golden brown. Fill two large bowls with icing sugar. Remove from the oven and while still hot coat them well in the icing sugar by dipping them first in one bowl and then into the other (photo courtesy of The Tasty Other).

Christopsomo

Christopsomo or Christ’s bread is a very special Greek bread for Christmas. It has its origins in ancient Greece and the bloodless sacrifices people used to offer to their Gods to ask for their favour.

Christopsomo is traditionally made on Christmas Eve, with a lot of care, the very best of the ingredients and a special yeast. It is decorated with a cross, nuts (usually walnuts and whole almonds) and other fertility and prosperity symbols made by dough. On Christmas Day, the father of the family cuts Christopsomo by hand and distributes it to all his family and to those who attend the Christmas table. A knife is never used to cut Christopsomo as it is considered to be harmful to the good spirit that Christopsomo symbolises. Along with kourampiedes, melomakarona and diples, Christopsomo is one of the most characteristic Greek festive food, full of flavour and full of history!  Below, you will find the simple and delicious recipe that we enjoyed on our Christmas event.

  

      

Ingredients

4 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp of sweet anise
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
1 egg lightly beaten for spreading
Whole walnuts, whole almonds and sesame seeds

Method

In a large bowl, combine the flour with sugar, salt and anise. Make a hole in the centre and add the oil and water. Knead well and then shape either into a round loaf or small buns keeping a little dough for the decoration. Shape the remaining dough into two long ropes and place over the loaf in the shape of a cross. Put a whole walnut in the middle and whole almonds in the corners. Brush the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you wish. Bake in a medium oven of 180-190 degrees Celsius, the small buns for 30 minutes and the big loaf for 50 minutes to one hour .

Christmas breads and holiday hearts…this is the way the holiday starts!

We are so excited to share with you some photos from our sold out Christmas workshop, in collaboration with the Hellenic Centre and Ekivil (Ελληνικός Κύκλος Βιβλιόφιλων Λονδίνου). All the little ones who joined enjoyed a very fun day filled with all sorts of festive activities, a seasonal play, traditional baking and exciting arts and crafts. Can’t wait to see you all again in our Easter event!

    

     

     

           

             

             

       

17th November 1973 – A Day to Remember!

On the 17th of November 1973, a group of University students, barricaded inside Athens Polytechnic (Polytechneio), protesting the military junta that was ruling Greece since 1967.

                         tank_foitites

 

Passionate and determined, they put into action what the majority of the population was desperate to express; by demanding freedom for all and inviting all Greek citizens to join them, they were a true testament of how significant change can often originate from the most spontaneous, honest actions. Press here to listen to an audio extract, broadcasted by Polytechneio’s amateur radio station, moments before the AMX 30 tank crashed through the gates leading to many injured and even killed.

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day has been celebrated since the Middle ages on the 19th of March (which is also St Joseph’s Day); it became known to the Americas by the Spanish and the Portuguese. The original date is said to be the19th of March, however it gradually changed to the third Sunday of June for most of Europe- while Latin America largely still celebrates on the initial date.

It is a day of celebration not only of fathers but also fatherhood and its significance in a person’s life, and it complements festivals of similar nature such as Mother’s Day.

Mother Figures in Modern Greek Art

   Mother as an inspiration for Modern Greek Art!

 

            

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May Customs

May Day has its roots in antiquity. It is the first day of May and signifies the commencement of spring celebrations. According to tradition, May took its name from the Roman deity Maia, named by the Greek word Maia (Μαία), which means nanny and mother.

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Easter traditions in Greece

Orthodox Easter is filled with different customs and traditions related to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Many of these are still followed and celebrated all around Greece during the Holy Week (Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα), with the participation in each also being an opportunity for a social gathering.

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Easter Eggs

One of the most popular traditions is dyeing eggs in a bright red colour. The custom originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red to honour the blood of Christ. One can find many stories linked to the custom, most of which are associated with female figures, such as Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary, and their connection to the crucifixion of Christ. In any case, the custom was adopted by the Christian Church and red eggs became a symbol of the resurrection.

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Palm Sunday in Greece

On the Sunday before Easter and right before the beginning of the Holy Week (Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα in Greek), the Christian Church celebrates one of its most joyous holy days of the year. Palm Sunday is the commemoration of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, following the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Having heard of the miracle, the people went out to meet him, welcoming him carrying palms.

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