Happy Sunday! It’s Christmas Eve, and I’ve got a recipe for traditional Slovak braided bread that deserves a place at your holiday table. I’m hoping that you are all slowing down and enjoying time with friends and family today. In case you, like me, love to spend quiet moments baking something for the people you love, then take a look at this rich, sweet loaf of bread that is perfect for slicing and topping with butter or jam.
This bread is made from the same dough that I used for bobalky last week. The dough recipe makes enough for one loaf of this braided bread and a generous amount of bobalky, or you could make two braided loaves. Either way, the results are delicious.
To make the dough, first scald a cup of milk on the stove and let it cool until it is lukewarm. Add sugar and yeast to it. In a separate bowl, warm a can of evaporated milk, then add a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of melted butter. In a large bowl, add six cups of flour, then add the milk and yeast mixture, the evaporated milk mixture, two egg yolks, and 3/4 tablespoon of salt and stir with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are combined. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured countertop (seriously, do not skimp on the flour here). If the dough is too sticky to knead, add up to 1/2 cup more flour to it. Knead the dough very well, for at least ten minutes, until it forms an smooth ball that springs back slowly when pressed. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let it rise for 2 hours.
Place the dough back on a floured countertop and divide it into two sections. Take one of these sections and divide it into three relatively equal portions. Roll these out until they are about an inch longer than your bread pan, then let them rise for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°F. You can repeat this with the remaining portion of dough, or use it for bobalky.
Braid the three strands together, then place them in a buttered loaf pan and allow it to rise for an hour, then brush it with melted butter. Repeat with the other loaf, if making. Bake the loaf or loaves in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, then raise the heat to 375°F and bake for another hour. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out and serving.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 6 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature and beaten
- ¾ tablespoon salt
- Place the 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling, then remove from the heat and allow to cool until it is lukewarm. Add it to a bowl with the sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over it and set aside.
- Warm the evaporated milk, either in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, until lukewarm. Mix together with the 1 cup water and melted butter.
- Add 6 cups of flour to a large bowl. Pour in the evaporated milk mixture, followed by the beaten egg yolks, salt, and yeast mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Generously flour a countertop and turn the dough out. If the dough is too wet to knead, add more flour a quarter cup at a time. My dough became firm enough to work with after ½ cup. Knead the dough very well, until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place it in a bowl and cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for 2 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in two. You can set one half aside to make bobalky, or you can proceed and make two loaves of braided bread.
- Divide each half into three relatively equal parts. Stretch them out to make strands that are an inch or two longer than your bread pan. Allow the strands to rest, covered with a kitchen towel, for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough, if using. Generously butter a bread pan (or two) and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Braid the three strands together, then place them in the buttered bread pan. Allow the bread to rise for an hour, then generously brush it with melted butter. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then raise the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning the bread out and serving.