Here's the cast of characters according to Yia Yia Katie's recipe:
Mostly it's the cast. I notice that the flour and baking powder are absent. But the important parts are posing there very nicely...butter, eggs and sugar. The oranges are sitting there smugly, looking very...well...smug aren't they? They provide a lovely fragrant and irreplaceable nuance to the finished cookie, and vitamin C of course.
You aren't able to see, but the recipe is in Greek so Duke Zeus was imperative to the process. The Countess could discern bits and blurbs, but this is an exacting task and we needed the Duke's expertise. To tell us when we had added "enough flour that the dough looked nice", or just exactly what a "medium" oven is, for instance. You know, the finer deets. Yia Yia Katie is one of those born cooks and bakers. She bakes by feel and the position of the stars, using not much more than a coffee cup for measurement. Me? I'm not so comfy with baking. I can come up with some kind of hot mess, people. Consider the Parmesan Knots for yesterday's dinner...lovely golden on the outside looking very promising and completely raw on the inside. And these were concocted from a tube of biscuits. Oh, and the muffins for church yesterday? I watched a friend peel off the cute little paper (which admittedly looked a little scorched, but I didn't have time to do an inspection before rushing out the door for crying out loud) to reveal what looked like a Kingsford Bricquet. So yeah, baking is a bit of a mystery to me. In addition, Yia Yia Katie has this wonder called a Thermo Mix. I think it mixes and bakes all in one or something. It makes my sexy red KitchenAid look like something out of a Fisher Price kitchenette.
But we must make do at the Manor, for the sake of the children.....
It's too bad I don't have a picture of the egg fluffing, because it was a sight to behold. Three whole eggs and 3 yolks beaten with 1 cup of sugar until the mixture was beautifully yellow and fluffy. Above, you can see where we almost got into trouble...the adding of the flour. The recipe called for 9 cups of flour. Now, that's alot of flour in anybody's book, no? We later found another recipe for Koulourakia from Yia Yia Katie calling for far less flour. Here's where you need to actually need to know "when the dough looks nice". You can just barely see Princess Poo's weensy foot in the lower left of the picture. Something in her tiny little Greekness was shuddering (hence the blurry weensy foot) at the abandon with which I added 8 cups of flour to the laboring mixer.
Me: Do you think that's right? That's alot of flour.
Duke Zeus: That's alot of flour.
Countess: Is that right, honey?
Duke Zeus: I don't know. I don't bake. (me: WHAT?)
Me: We can throw it out and start over. Really, it's okay. (this is how I handle things)
Here's where I went next.
After some hand wringing over the flour situation, we decided against throwing out $10 worth of dough and let it rest while some among us had a bottle to calm ourselves.
When it came time to bake, we decided that a medium oven was 350 degrees (after the first batch, we upped it to 375 and that seemed just right).
Grab a wad of the dough in your arthritic hand about the size of a small egg.
Roll it into about a 10 inch snake. Yia Yia Katie does this between her hands, but I simply couldn't get that down. So I polished my counters with the dough.
Fold the snake in half and twist. Make sure you have a mani before you make Koulourakia, and do choose a nuclear pinky purple. It's so springy, you know?
My proudest moment (and we could only go up from the Parmesan Knots) was when Duke Zeus observed the finished product and said.....
"....this row here, I could not separate from my mom's."
Me: contented sigh.
I should point out, he was speaking of the row in front, not the row in back. Those little fatties didn't get glazed.
Personally, this one is my favorite. I can't help but think of a plump little lady laying there with her legs crossed.
Yia Yia Katie's Koulourakia
3 egg yolks
1 c sugar
1 c butter (melted)
zest of 2 oranges
9 c flour (I'm saying 9 because that's what Yia Yia Katie wrote, but full disclosure - methinks 6-7 c)
8 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 c milk
glaze: 1 egg yolk & 1 spoon of milk
Beat eggs, yolks and sugar at high speed until fluffy. With the mixer running, slowly add the cooled butter. Add zest and milk. Mix. Add the salt and baking powder and begin adding the flour. You want a moderately stiff, but not terribly dry dough. Let the dough rest for 15 or 20 minutes.
With small egg sized balls of dough, roll into a snake, fold and twist. You can also make the snakes into spirals, if you like. Place on cookie sheet (I used a seasoned stoneware, so I'm not sure about greasing issues on a metal sheet - I probably wouldn't for the first batch) and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. They should be lovely golden brown.
Koulourakia are wonderful with coffee (or tea, I'm told). They are slightly sweet with just a hint of orange. They will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks apparently. I highly doubt if they'll last before the Earl and I eat them, so I won't be able to confirm that.
Okay, you'll notice that there is no vanilla and no sesame seeds in Yia Yia's recipe. Others I found on the internets had both, the sesame seeds being sprinkled on top. These are delicious as is, I really wouldn't change a thing, and this is what Duke Zeus grew up with. And that's what I was hoping for, to help replicate what was familiar, for him and his wife and tiny beautiful daughter.