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  • Writer's pictureGrace Piera

Yia Yia's Recipe

Grace, of Greek heritage, shares her grandmother's special recipe for Koulourakia, a Greek pastry.

My grandma (Yia Yia in Greek) taught me this recipe. It is for Koulourakia, a Greek bread and/or cookie dish, which my Yia Yia makes year round. It is traditional to bake a coin into the bread on New Years, and the person who receives the coin is believed to be granted luck for one year. My Yia Yia's recipe is below.

Koulourakia Recipe


  • 3 cups warm milk

  • 1 cup sugar (to make sweeter bread, add 2 cups)

  • 6 well-beaten eggs

  • 2.5-3 lbs sifted flour

  • a pinch of mastiha (ground with a pinch of sugar)

  • a pinch of anise seeds

  • blended half an orange

  • 1 lb of butter

  • 3 cups of milk

  • 2 packets of dry or active yeast

  • sesame seeds

  • walnuts (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (optional)


  1. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.

  2. Heat milk with sugar until warm.

  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Add butter, sugar-milk mixture.

  4. Grind half an orange with a pinch of ground mastiha and anise seeds. Mix in the yeast, and add two cups of flour (and chopped nuts)

  5. Add remaining flour, blending and working into a moderately stiff dough. Put onto lightly floured surfaces and knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

  6. Punch down in one large round baking pan or two 9’’ cake pans. Place the washed coin in the center. Allow to rise again.

  7. Brush with egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds (shape in loaves to make bread and roll into twisted strips to make cookies).

  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Then, lower the heat to 325 for 10 minutes longer.

  9. Enjoy your Koulourakia!


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