Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sweet Bread (Slovak Christmas Bread - Vianocka)

This year is Marek's first year away from home during the holidays. It was my priority to make it as special as possible. This meant spoiling him with plenty of slovak baking!
The first thing I made was this gorgeous sweet bread Slovaks call 'Vianocka' (pronounced vee-a-noch-ka). I haven't got too much experience with bread making so I was crossing my fingers with this one, and you know what? it worked! The bread turned out brilliantly! Marek had the biggest smile on his face when he saw it. He said it looked and tasted authentic.
I have to admit I am quite proud of this one ;)

1 pack active dry yeast (8g)
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks (keep the white for glazing)
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup raisins
zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, 2 tbsp sugar and warm milk. Set aside for 15 minutes

2. In a large bowl or stand mixer combine flour sugar and salt. Add the egg yolk, softened butter, raisins, zest and yeast mixture. Using a dough hook or by hand, knead until dough is smooth and elastic.Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to let rise until doubled in size

3. Punch dough and knead until all air pockets are removed. Divide the dough into atleast 3 strands. Cover and let rise for another 15 minutes. Braid the strands and tuck the ends under. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover again with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled

4.Bake in the oven at 375 F for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 325 F. Lightly brush bread with beaten egg white and sprinkle with almonds. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until bread is medium golden in colour. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack

Toast a slice of this and coat in butter = H-E-A-V-E-N

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