Czech Spiced-Fruit Christmas Hoska

Czech Spiced-Fruit Christmas Hoska

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About this recipe: Serve this traditional Czech Christmas bread with butter. Some people toast it, eat it with jam or icing sugar, depending upon local customs and family preference. It takes a while to make, but is well worth the effort.

Carol Ponec-Nemec

Makes: 2 large loaves

  • 1 tablespoon dried active baking yeast
  • 60ml lukewarm water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 115g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 475ml scalded (then cooled) milk
  • 750g plain flour
  • pinch ground ginger
  • pinch ground mace
  • pinch dried orange zest
  • 70g sultanas
  • 120g mixed citrus peel
  • 55g blanched slivered almonds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 15ml milk
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar to serve

Prep:1hr  ›  Cook:45min  ›  Ready in:1hr45min 

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and creamy, then add beaten egg and salt. Stir in cooled milk and the yeast. Add 200g sifted flour and beat to make a smooth batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Stir spices and orange zest into the mix, then add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Place on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Add sultanas and mixed peel.
  4. Put dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn once to coat the surface of the dough with oil. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Divide dough into 10 parts, roll into desired lengths and let rise about l5 minutes. On a well greased baking tray, make a braid of three parts, beginning in the centre and working braid loosely toward each end. Pinch ends together. Twist two more pieces together and place on the base of the braid. Repeat for second loaf.
  6. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and milk and brush mixture over each loaf. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Let rise for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  7. Bake loaves for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. Cover while cooling with a clean tea towel to make a soft crust. To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar and cut into slices.

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