Brioche type bread with raisins, nutmeg, almonds.
In December, I like to bake lot of items related to Christmas whether it is cookie, bread or cake. I am in baking spree. As you read my blog then you will know that I am fan of bread baking along with rest of bakes. So come December, I will try to make at least one Christmas bread and this year it is Vánočka. I also made another unsuccessful event of making famous Italian bread Panettone. Yes it is the third time in row that I have failed. The Panettone did taste great, but the shape was not perfect. May be next time I will be able to get all the aspects right.
This month “Baking Partners Challenge”is to bake Christmas bread, Vánočka; which is braided bread, baked in Czech Republic and Slovakia during Christmas time. It is delicious and tasty bread with loads of raisins and almonds. It is brioche type bread with lemon zest. Vánočka is built from three progressively smaller braids, stacked on top of each other and is symbolic representation of the baby Jesus wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.
Vanocka has a reputation for being difficult to prepare, so in many households, superstitions and special customs are attached to the baking process. When making vánočka, it is said that one must think of everyone dear to you. Another custom is baker should wear white apron and kerchief while baking vánočka. Finally, the person who is making the vánočka should jump up and down while the dough rises. Also make sure it should be burnt while baking. Another tradition is to bake it with a coin which insert into a dough prior to baking and whoever finds it in their slice supposed to prosperous following year.
While searching for a recipe of Christmas bread, I found this vánočka is quiet interesting. As it has 3 different type of braid is needed to make for this bread, a four braid, three braids and 2 braids. Vanocka is really huge bread usually eaten during Christmas Eve so finding recipe which uses less flour was a challenge at first. Finally I found one with 4 cups /500g of flour. I know that I can’t reduce any more as it needs to make 3 different kinds of braids. I did some modification as I don’t have lemon zest in my hand, used lime zest. Increased amount of raisins in the dough however did not add any almond in the dough but only used for decorations.
Please make sure to use only correct weight dough while making the braid, I did that, and still I think when I rolled it becomes slightly off and on in some areas resulting in a slight loopside on the end product. So not only make sure that dough are equal sized pieces but also pieces for the braid should be rolled uniformly.
After proofing and doing an egg wash I was waiting eagerly for the bread to get baked and next morning when I cut a slice and eat it was like I am eating aromatic raisin bread. You can eat them as such if you want toast then you are making it double delicious. Here comes recipe. Make sure to look at other baking partners challenge’s too.
This is Swathi ( Ambujom Saraswathy) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen who loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. Whenever possible I try to to give an Indian touch to several of the world cuisine, and has weakness for freshly baked bread. All the recipes you see here are created by me and approved after taste-test by my family.