Heat the milk with a little of the sugar (10 g) in a pot until it reaches 35° C. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Put 200 gr. of the recipe flour to a bowl, pour in the hot mixture of milk and yeast, and stir until they are homogenised. Cover the bowl with food wrap and let it rise and double in volume. It will take about 45 ‘in the oven at 35οC.
Mix the flour with the mahlab, the mastic, the sugar and orange zest in a bowl.
Transfer the yeast mixture to the mixer bowl and fit the hook. While mixing at low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and as soon as it is finished, add the eggs and let it homogenize.
Then, increase the speed of the mixer and gradually add the softened butter, waiting for the previous dose to be integrated in order to add the next one. Once the whole amount of butter is integrated, add the salt and vanilla and continue beating the dough for another 20 minutes at high speed until the dough is uniform and smooth and comes off the bowl completely.
Attention! At the beginning of the process, the dough looks strange in texture and may give the impression that it needs more flour. Do not add flour because the dough will become stiff. The beating will help it get the right texture.
Take the dough out of the mixer bowl and put it in a large bowl that has been spread with butter, cover with food wrap and leave it in a warm place for at least 3 hours so that the dough doubles in volume (for fast results put it in the oven at 35oC).
Take the dough out of the bowl and press it lightly with your hand so that it deflates. To make 1 tsoureki, divide the dough into 3 equally weighing pieces of 400 gr. each. To make 2 buns, divide it into 6 equally weighing pieces of 200 gr. each. Shape into 3 sticks of 35 cm, and place them along vertical to you, leaving a distance of about 6 cm between them. Starting from the side that is far from you, join the edges of the 2 outer sticks together and then bring over the top of their joint,the edge of the middle stick and press it in order to stick. Bring the right stick over the middle and between the middle and the left one, then bring the left stick over the right one and between the right and middle one. Carry on this way to make the braid and as soon as you reach the end, join the edges and wrap them under the braid. Carefully press the braid lengthwise and widthwise to correct its shape. If you make 2 buns, repeat the process withthe2ndbun.
Place the buns on a baking tray spread with butter or with baking paper and leave it in warm place (again 35oC) until they double again in volume, for at least an hour.Spread the surface of the buns very carefully with a brush. Sprinkle with the almond slices and bake in a preheated oven at 165oC, until the buns are golden brown, for about 30′. Place the bun on the grill to cool.
* Tip: You can control the proper baking of the buns by placing a thermometer in their centre. The temperature shall reach 90oC.
Tip. The rising stages can be done at room temperature or even in the refrigerator. The completion of the process will be done in different time but probably the longest time may benefit the taste of the dough.