About this recipe:Serve this traditional Czech Christmas bread with butter. Some people toast it and eat it with jam or icing sugar depending upon local customs and family preference. It takes a while to make, but is well worth the effort.
1 tablespoon dried active baking yeast
4 tablespoons warm water (45 C)
100g (3¾ oz) caster sugar
125g (4 oz) butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
450ml (16 fl oz) scalded milk, cooled
750g (1½ lb) plain flour, sifted
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground mace
1 pinch dried orange zest
75g (3 oz) sultanas
125g (4¼ oz) mixed citrus peel
75g (3 oz) flaked almonds
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons icing sugar
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Method Prep:1hr › Cook:45min › Ready in:1hr45min
Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add beaten egg and salt. Stir in cooled milk and then the yeast. Add 200g of the flour; beat to smooth batter. Cover and let rise until light, about one hour.
Stir spices and orange zest into the mixture. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Place on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Knead in sultanas and mixed peel. Put in a well oiled bowl and turn once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover. Set aside in a warm place to rise until double in bulk, about 2 hours.
Divide dough into ten parts, roll into desired lengths and let rise about l5 minutes. On a heavily greased baking tray, make a plait of three parts, beginning in the centre and loosely plaiting toward each end. Pinch ends together. Twist the remaining two pieces together and place on the base of the plait. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and milk; brush the loaf with this mixture. Sprinkle flaked almonds over the loaf. Repeat process for second loaf. Let rise about 45 minutes.
Bake at 180 C / Gas mark 4 for 45 minutes. Transfer bread to a cooling rack and cool completely. Cover while cooling with a clean cloth to make a soft crust. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
I haven't made this version yet because I use my own family's recipe, but this is truly a great bread. The braided shape is quite pretty and I've always gotten compliments when I've shared loaves with others. I wouldn't reduce the size of the recipe either. It takes a good amount of time, you'll be happy to have made two loaves. - 14 Jul 2008
This is delicious! My husband, who does not care for cakes without cream, ate half of it. This cake would be one of my regular festive (and non-festive as well) cakes. - 14 Jul 2008