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Czech Christmas Bread

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Czech Christmas Bread

Czech Christmas Bread

Photo © Elizabeth Yetter

There are so many wonderful Christmas breads from around the world that it's difficult to pick just one to bake, but it is always fun to test out a new Christmas bread each year while using a tried and true favorite recipe as a backup. This easy recipe for Czech Christmas bread is a definite must try. Flavored with ground aniseed, lemon zest, and raisins, this easy yeast bread packs a lot of flavor. You can bake this bread ahead of time, cool it completely, and freeze it for Christmas dessert. Serve sliced, warm or cold, with a fluffy whipped butter or a creamy, sweet brown sugar butter.

Yield: 1 braided loaf

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 tsp or 1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tbsp soft butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1/2 tsp aniseed, ground
  • grated rind of 1 small lemon
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg white for shiny crust

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together yeast and milk. Add egg, honey, soft butter, salt, 1 egg, ground aniseed, and lemon zest. Stir. Add 2 cups flour and mix well. Add raisins and enough flour to make a dough that follows the spoon around the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4 minutes, adding more flour as needed until the dough is soft and smooth to the touch. Place dough in medium greased bowl. Turn dough over in the bowl so that the top is also lightly greased. Cover with clean cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

  2. Punch down dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 4 minutes or until the bubbles are out of the bread. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 14-inch rope. Loosely braid the dough ropes together. Place loaf on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

  3. Lightly brush egg white onto top of bread. Bake bread at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when the top is tapped. Remove bread from pan and let cool on rack.
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