Vánočka is a rich, flavorful bread from the Czech Republic that is traditionally served at Christmas time.
It can be braided 2 ways: as a 6 strand braid or as 3 loaves (4 strand, 3 strand and 2 strand) stacked on top of each other.
I tried the latter and was disappointed with how much the bread spread out as it rose and baked.
I think a 6 strand loaf would have more structure and less warping. Check out my Challah Bread post to see how to braid a 6 strand loaf. I’ve also included a video below.
It’s really not that difficult and very impressive looking.
The dough itself is a lot like Challah or Brioche.
What makes this bread so unique is the fresh ground nutmeg and star anise. It gives the bread a really wonderful, complex flavor.
Because of the amount of fat and sugar in the recipe, it rises quickly.
I ended up making the dough a day ahead of time and refrigerating it. This gives the dough more time to develop its flavor.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and place it in the oven on the warm setting. You can take it out of the oven once the bowl warms up and the dough starts to rise.
Make sure you take it out before you start to preheat the oven.
Punch down and fold the dough once to encourage more gluten development. Heavy doughs like this need good gluten development to help them to rise.
This bread was a real hit in our house. I can see myself making more very soon. It’s great sliced or toasted with a little butter.
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