Sunday, 27 December 2015

Vanocka - Christmas special Bread


  Vanocka is a sweetened braided bread, with full of flavors from Czech Republic and Slovakia.  Apart from sugar, this bread also has loads of almonds and raisin to give a  sweet hint and has aroma  from nutmeg and lemon zest. 




This bread involves braiding in three batches, and stacking them all up.  They have to be pinned through toothpicks or grill sticks so that the layer don't collapse.  The real trick is to equally divide the dough into nine counterparts for braiding, which can be efficiently done through weighing machine. 



After baking this yeast-raised bread, there was an strong hint of aroma around my home, resembling the plum cake. Each slice was a bit dense yet sweetened with a lemony flavor.   We ended up devouring this beautiful braided bread.  Merry Christmas to all, and thanks to Swathi Iyer for suggesting such a exotic bake. 



Ingredients required

  • 375 grams of All purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp of caster sugar (divided into two batches, 5+1 tbspn)
  • 21/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 ml lukewarm milk
  • 65 grams unsalted butter, melted and lukewarm
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 45 grams of raisin
  • 45 grams of whole almonds, blanched and peeled
For Egg wash
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp water

Method

Stir in yeast and 1 tbsp sugar to lukewarm milk, leave it aside till yeast dissolves.
In an large bowl, add flour, salt, remaining sugar,  lemon zest and grated nutmeg.  Mix them thoroughly.  Make well into the flour mix.


Add in yolk, vanilla extract, yeast mix and butter. 


Knead them into soft and pliable dough. 


Transfer this dough into greased bowl, and let it proof. 


Alternatively, add raisins to the boiling water and cook till raisins puff up.  This may take around ten to fifteen minutes. 




After they puffed up and dough also gets proofed, knead the raisins into the dough with bit of flour.






Divide this dough into nine equal parts. 


Take first four balls and roll them into 20 cm long cylinder.  Start braiding them , as the pic  follows. 






Now, take next three balls, rolling them into same length and braiding them as follows.




And last two balls are also braided.


First place the four braided strand into parchment paper lined Baking tin.


Push them towards the center, using fingers.


Top them with three braided strand, now push the center of the three braided strand.



Finally top these with two braided strands.


Insert almond into each sections.


Leave these aside for second proof, for not more than 30 minutes.  Alternatively, preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.  For the egg wash, add water to one beaten egg and brush them all over the bread.


Insert toothpicks all over the bread, so that their structure are well supported and don't fall off during baking. 


Bake them for 48 minutes, cover them with aluminium foil to prevent over browning of the crust. 


Let them cool over wire rack, slice and enjoy! 

Happy Baking :)


 













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