Koulourakia come in many shapes and flavors. The Minoans in Ancient Crete made snake-shaped koulourakia reflecting the healing power of snakes that were part of their religious practice. In more recent Greek tradition, koulourakia shaped like twists are baked for Easter in various flavors, including vanilla, cinnamon, and orange. Orange flavor koulourakia are a particularly popular flavor. The addition of orange juice and orange zest impart a fresh, fragrant essence to these tasty cookies that will impress your guests at Easter or any time of the year.
Koulourakia with Orange Flavor
- 1 pound sweet butter
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup orange juice
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 3-4 pounds all-purpose, unbleached flour
- 2-3 eggs for the egg wash
- Sesame seeds (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the oil and the sugar. Add the orange juice, vanilla, orange zest, and the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Lower the mixer speed and add the baking powder and the flour gradually. You may need to incorporate the remaining flour by hand depending on the size of your mixer. Add as much flour as needed to make a dough that doesn’t stick to your fingers and can be made into cookie shapes. Roll the dough into cookie twists, the traditional shape for koulourakia, but circles, S-shapes and figure eights can also be made. Place the cookie shapes on ungreased baking sheets an inch or two apart since the koulourakia will puff up. In a small bowl, beat the eggs for the egg wash. Brush the koulourakia with the egg wash, and if preferred sprinkle with some sesame seeds on top, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans from the lower to the upper rack and brushing again with egg wash about half way through the baking process. Cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.