Monday, December 12, 2016

Vánočka/Vanocka - Czech Christmas Bread

Vanocka/Vánočka is a Czech Republic and Slovakia Christmas bread which is often baked during Christmas time. This bread calls for a rich bread dough prepared with eggs, butter and this bread dough sounds almost like Brioche. Usually this bread have raisins and almonds though sometime you can add some lemon rind or orange rinds just to give some flavor. Braided like Challa, this bread calls for three progressively braids stacked on top of each other. This is sometimes interpreted as a rough sculpture of Baby Jesus wrapped in cloth laying in a manger (manger is a structure used to hold food to feed animals). Manger is also a Christian symbol. Earlier people felt like saying that this bread is very difficult to prepare at home and so many superstitions and special customs are followed while baking this bread. When making Vánočka some says that the person who bakes this bread should jump up and down while the dough rises, another custom says that to avoid touching silver or metal to the Vánočka.

Vánočka, Czech Christmas Bread

Few more peoples says that one should wear white apron and kercheif while preparing this bread dough and baking. Thats why before 18th century, this bread could be bought only at baker stores as people never want to bake it at home. I have been looking for a chance to bake this incredible braided bread and finally i baked during my weekend as i felt like baking something special to post for this week's blogging marathon. Am running this week's blogging marathon with 'Christmas Special' as theme, hence am posting this traditional Vánočka under this theme.

Vánočka, Czech Christmas Bread

5cups All purpose flour
2tbsp Instant yeast
1/4cup sugar
1/4tsp Salt
2tbsp Lemon zest
1tspVanilla extract
1tsp Grated nutmeg
1cup Lukewarm milk
100grams Butter(melted)
2 large egg yolks
1/2cup Raisins
1/3cup Blanched almonds
Milk for brushing the top

In a large bowl add flour, salt, sugar, instant and yeast, nutmeg and lemon zest.Then add vanilla extract, egg yolk and add milk mix well everything.

Knead well until the dough turns soft and pliable dough.While the dough is raising, heat water in bowl and add raisins and bring to boil.

Transfer to lightly greased pan and set aside for double in volume. When the dough gets double in volume, punch it with your fingers.

Drain in a kitchen towel and set aside.Then add the raisins to the dough and knead well.Divide the dough into 9 equal parts.And roll out each ball as long ropes and keep aside.

Start braiding 4 strands dough, then followed by a three strands, finally twist the two strands and dont connect the ends.

Arrange the 4 braids in the parchment paper lined baking sheet, slightly make a depression in the center. so that it can hold other two braids.

Then place the 3 braids on the top of 4 braids and make depression again in the center.Now place the two braid on the top and when comes to end, tuck the ends well.

Vánočka,Vanocka, Czech Christmas Bread

Brush the bread well with milk and arrange the blanched almonds on the top.

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Arrange the baking tray to the middle of the oven.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the bread turns golden brown. (If the bread turns too brown quickly, wrap it with aluminium foil and bakea gain).

Drizzle this bread with a simple icing sugar glaze or else dust with icing sugar (its completely optional)

To keep the bread prefect, dont forget to insert some skewers in between the braids without any fail. This helps a lot to keep the shape of this bread.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#71


vaishali sabnani said... Reply To This Comment

Interesting write up and the bread looks beautifully braided.. Absolutely awesome.

Harini R said... Reply To This Comment

Looks gorgeous with the braided look.

Pavani said... Reply To This Comment

That is such a pretty looking braided bread Priya. Looks just perfect for Christmas.

cookingwithsapana said... Reply To This Comment

Vanocka looks absolutely perfect. I too made it last year and totally loved it.

Usha said... Reply To This Comment

That is a beautiful bread and perfect for Christmas.