Undoubtedly one the hardest aspect of being a human is experiencing the loss of a loved one. Last April my beautiful, little Yiayia passed away after several months of struggle. Today would have been her 91st birthday, and is the first birthday in which she is gone. Although it is difficult to know she is no longer here, for me it helps to remember the times we shared. In my life I was fortunate to spend quality time with her as a child, teenager, and adult. There are numerous memories which bring me happiness when I begin to feel her absence.
One of my favorite memories of Yiayia includes all the times she would let my brother and I “help” her bake cookies. After preschool or kindergarten (yes I still can remember that far back), we would go to her house. If we were lucky, and let’s face it she is Greek so we were almost always lucky, she would be baking cookies. She would always set aside some of dough to keep us entertained. Once she was almost finished she would bake our dough, leaving it in whatever was its last shape.
These memories came back to me last weekend as I helped my mom bake Koulorakia. Although I realize everyone says this, no body made Koulorakia like my Yiayia, okay except for my mom. The recipe, while not difficult, is simply time consuming. As an adult I have only made it once on my own. After that experience I vowed to only make it again when I have a stand mixer. Honestly I am impressed with women in the past who made this by hand. While I might look at this recipe as an easy one, I realize others may see it as intimidating. Therefore, with my mom’s permission, I am posting a tutorial on how to replicate this beautiful Greek pastry.
To begin, find a recipe. I know I have already talked up my Yiayia’s amazing one. My mom however sells this item to a local Greek restaurant. As such I promised not to share Yiayia’s recipe. Instead I have researched several ones via Pinterest. Some of the best ones I found are from the following sites:
- Salt Lake Greek Festival
- Taste of Homes (Hint Closest to Yiayia’s recipe. Insert wink-wink face)
- My Greek Dish
- Brownie Bites
- Lemons for Lulu (Okay the most different from Yiayia’s but one I want to take a stab at!!
Using your stand mixer, unless you are brave and have amazing arm strength, follow your chosen recipe and prepare the dough. Remember to set aside plenty of time to prepare the dough. This is not a quick procedure, sorry if you want a quick cookie you might want to reconsider trying this recipe. However, if you want a delicious cookie filled with centuries of tradition continue reading, and if you want to learn even more about this cookies tradition visit the Sweet Almond Tree.
Once your dough is prepared it is time to start crafting these beauties. To begin make sure you have a decent surface for rolling. At Christmas, when my mom made this with my friend Kastin and me, we lacked a decent rolling surface. I personally was the “cookie runner,” the one who puts the cookies in and out of the oven. For me the surface was not an issue because I did not roll as many cookies. This time however we were missing a third so I had to roll. For our wonderful surface we choose a beautiful, vinyl Christmas tablecloth, so please ignore the fact that it is the week of Valentine’s Day and not Christmas.
To begin grab a chunk of dough that is a little over the size of a tablespoon. Roll it into a ball like above.
Next roll the dough back and forth with your hands to lengthen it into a tube like shape
Now that it is the desired length take one end of the dough and cross it over the other end. (Again see above)
Continue to “cross” the dough until the ends meet.
Place on your cookie sheet, brush with egg and cook. Should you choose you can add sesame seeds at this point. Yiayia also did half and half, we usually leave them out.
Once it is cooked you should have a delicious and beautiful cookie to eat plain or dipped in coffee!