Czech Christmas Bread
My grandmother and aunt used to bake these lovely, traditional loaves every Christmas. I like my sliced toasted and buttered for breakfast.
Total TimePrep: 45 min. + rising Bake: 25 min. + cooling
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 5-1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, milk, butter, eggs, lemon zest, salt, mace and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead in raisins. Divide dough into six equal portions. Shape each into a 20-in. rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet; braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining ropes.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Beat egg yolk and water; brush over loaves. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
Originally published as Houska (Czechoslovakian Bread) in Country Woman Christmas 2007