VANOCKA — Czech Christmas Bread

(from cokerlj’s recipe box)

This is traditionally made at Christmas. Serve sliced with butter or toast it with butter…make French toast or bread pudding with leftovers!
For clear directions on making the braid, go to YouTube and look for Christmas Bread – Vanocka by Czech Cookbook. There will be an instructional video for making the braid. I mix mine different and add more raisins and additional dried fruit.

Source: Linda Coker, "Czech Cookbook"

Categories: Christmas, Czech Family Recipes


  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon for yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour (The original recipe called for all purpose flour...I prefer using bread flour in all my breads. 4 cups of bread flour was too much...try 3 1/2 cups.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large lemon for zest
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup Golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup cut up dried apricots
  • 2 additional whole eggs to brush over braid
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Powdered Sugar


  1. Warm milk in microwave. Mix in 1 heaping tablespoon sugar and yeast. Be careful not to get milk above 110 degrees or your yeast will be killed. Set aside for 10 minutes.

  2. Using stand mixer with dough hook…Mix together sugar, salt, Lemon zest, 2 egg yolks, melted butter. When mixed well, slowly add flower until all is incorporated.

  3. Add raisins and apricots and let your mixer do the work, forming a ball.

  4. Place bowl with dough in a warm place to rise for TWO HOURS.

  5. Watch youTube video to see how to make “ropes” for braiding. You will want 4 slightly shorter length ropes about 1 inch in thickness. You will want 3 slightly shorter ropes and 2 longer ropes.

  6. Braid 4 ropes into a braid, mashing together the ends. Place on to your parchment paper on a pan. Make a trench in the top center and brush entire braid with beaten eggs.

  7. Braid 3 ropes into a braid, mashing together the ends. Place on to the top center Trench of the 4 rope braid. Make a trench on top of this braid and brush with egg.

  8. Finally, twist together the final longer ropes and place into trench tucking ends under all of the braids thus enclosing the ends.

  9. Brush entire braid again with egg and toss on as many sliced almonds as you want.

  10. Break wooden skewers into 5-6 inch lengths and place vertically around braid to secure braids together. Let rise in warm spot for 1 hour.

  11. Cover ALL with foil, sort of tent.

  12. Bake, covered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

  13. After 45 minutes, remove foil and bake additional 5 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a clean skewer into the center of bread. If not done, bake additional 5 minutes.

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