Author Topic: Bohemian Christmas Bread (Czech)  (Read 648 times)

Olga Drozd

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Bohemian Christmas Bread (Czech)
« on: November 24, 2009, 08:36:32 PM »
Bohemian Christmas Bread

The Christmas season calls for at least one braided bread and this two tiered loaf is a good one for the table to make for friends.  Iced and decorated with pecans and red and green cherries, it is a holiday spectacle.  Makes superb toast.

2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 F.- 115 F.)
Pinch of sugar

1 cup milk, heated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/8 teaspoon mace
1 lemon rind grated
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs OR 4 egg yolks, room temperature
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour, approximately
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cut up almonds

CONFECTIONERS' ICING:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon warm water or milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup whole pecans
8 red and green candied cherries, halved

One 11 x 17 inch baking sheet, greased.

In a small bowl or cup blend yeast into the water.  Add sugar to speed the process.  Beat with a fork or metal whip to dissolve the yeast granules.  Let stand 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour the milk into a large bowl with sugar, salt, mace, lemon rind and butter.  If milk is pasteurized there is not need to scald it.  Cool to lukewarm.  Add eggs, half the flour (2 1/2 cups) and the yeast mixture to the bowl.  Beat until smooth--about 100 strokes.  Blend in the raisins and almonds.  Gradually stir in more flour (about 3 cups) to form a soft, elastic dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface--counter top or bread board.  Knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.  (If a dough hook is used, it will take only about 4 minutes.)  Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat all of the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap.

Place the covered bowl in a warm spot (80 to 85 F.) until the dough has doubled in bulk about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and turn out ont he floured board or counter top.  Divide the dough into two pieces, and place one in the bowl to reserve for the second loaf.

Divide the piece of dough into 4 equal parts.  Let them rest for 10 minutes.  Shape 3 of the 4 pieces into smooth, rope-like strips, about 14 inches long.  Place them side by side on the baking sheet.  Beginning in the middle, braid toward each end. Make a tight rather than a loose braid.  Pinch ends together and tuck under.

Divide the fourth piece into 3 equal parts.  Shape into strips about 10 inches long in the same manner.  Make another braid, and place it down the center of the larger braid.  If the small braid is difficult to place, with a knife or razor make a 1/2 inch cut along the top of the large braid and lay the small one in the depression.  If necessary use wooden toothpicks to hold in place.

Repeat with second piece.

Cover with wax paper.  Place in a warm place (80 F. to 85 F.) and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes, turn temperature down to 350 F. an additional 40 minutes, or until bread tests done when tapped on bottom crust.  A hard hollow sound means the bread is baked.

Remove bread from the oven and place on wire rack to cool.  Remove wooden toothpicks.  Ice, if desired, with confectioners' frosting. Decorate with candied cherries and pecans. Makes two medium braided loaves.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 11:17:54 AM by Olga Drozd »