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vánočka recipe
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Vánočka – Czech Braided Sweet Bread

Anauthentic recipe for traditional Czech vánočka.
Course bread
Cuisine Czech
Keyword sweet bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Rising 2 hours
Servings 1 vánočka

Ingredients

  • 2 and ½ cups (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ stick (75 g) unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup (65 g) granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup (35 g) blanched almonds finelly chopped
  • ⅓ cup (35 g) raisins soaked in rum
  • 20 g fresh yeast or 1 and ½ tsp instant yeast
  • ½ cup 120 ml milk lukewarm
  • 1 egg for dough
  • vanilla essence
  • lemon zest freshly grated
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • ½ tsp salt
  • blanched almonds chopped to sprinkle the top of vánočka

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

This recipe amounts for 1 vánočka.