Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center.
Crumble the fresh yeast (or add dried yeast) into the well sprinkle with 1 tsp sugar. Pour over with a little lukewarm milk and carefully mix the liquid center together with a little flour until a mass similar to the semi-liquid batter is created. Dust with some flour and place the bowl with the mixture into the oven which is turned off. Put in the bottom of the oven a small pot with hot water. Close the oven door and let the yeast work for 30 minutes. The activated yeast should be bubbly and frothy after.
Pour the rest milk into a bowl, add melted butter and an egg. Whisk together. Add to the flour mixture.
Add remaining sugar, lemon zest, vanilla essence, salt. Knead everything together until the result is smooth and slightly sticky. If you use a kitchen mixer, knead the dough for 10 minutes using a paddle attachment. Kneading the dough with your hand, count on 15 minutes to finish.
In the end, incorporate drained raisins and chopped almonds into the dough.
Let the dough rise for a further 30 minutes in the warm place (ideally again in the steamy warm environment in the oven).
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Divide the risen dough into 2 parts (60 % and 40 %). Cur each part into 3 pieces. Roll out pieces into long strands. Braid strands as if you braided someone’s hair.
Place the bigger braid as the base onto a lined baking tray. Flatten the middle a bit with the side of your hand and put there the other (smaller) braid on the top of the upper braid.
Stick 3 skewers vertically into the vánočka: one in the middle, the second, and third on the ends. Skewers will help the vánočka to hold a nice shape during the rising and baking.
Let the vánočka rise for 1 hour in a warm place (again, the best environment is in the oven with a pot with hot water inside).
Make egg wash: whisk an egg with a fork, brush the surface of vánočka. Sprinkle with chopped almonds.
Pre-heat oven to 320 °F (160 °C).
Bake vánočka for 40-50 minutes. Beware! The vánočka will start to get gold in the middle of baking, cover it with tin foil so it doesn’t burn.
Make a skewer test at the end of the baking: Insert a wooden skewer into the center of vánočka, it should come out clean, without any streaks of non-baked dough. This is a sign that the vánočka is finished!
Take the vánočka out of the oven, remove the tin foil and skewers.
Dust vánočka with powdered sugar.