History of Vánočka (Czech Christmas Bread)

“Vánočka” is a very large semi-sweet braided Czech Christmas bread that is the symbol of Christmas in Czech Republic. It’s a treat you can see in nearly every Czech household, just prior to and/or during the Christmas holidays. Its name derives from the very word for Christmas in Czech, which is “vánoce”.

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Czech Christmas Bread (Vánočka) – Traditional yeast-raised

Using yeast is the most common approach to making Czech Christmas bread (Vánočka). It requires two separate risings during the preparation process. From beginning to end, set aside at least 4 ½ hours to make. This recipe makes a long loaf with between 16 and 20 servings.

For a brief history of this Czech holiday staple, see my post Vánočka (Czech Christmas Bread) – Brief history and recipes. It references the recipe below, as well as an appealing yeast-free version that includes farmers cheese. Enjoy!

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Czech Farmers Cheese Christmas Bread (Tvarohová Vánočka)

This is a variation on the beloved Czech Christmas sweet bread (Vanočká) that is usually made with yeast. Instead, this version uses baking powder and other leavening agents. It also includes soft-style farmers cheese (měkký tvaroh), which increases its richness and gives its inside a slightly softer texture. It is quicker to make than its yeast-raised cousin (soon to also be posted), only requiring about 2 hours or less, from start to finish.

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Makové Kuličky (Poppy Seed Balls)

Mák (poppy seeds) are commonly used in baking, confections, and even more savory cooking, in Czech Republic. These poppy seed balls are unbaked, have only a small number of ingredients, and are relatively quick to make. If you love poppy seeds, you might really like these on your Christmas cookie platter. They are definitely unique!

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Kokosky (Coconut Meringue Cookies)

Puffs of heavenly coconut bliss

Today is only the second week of November, yet I’ve made my first batch of Christmas cookies this year! I’ve decided to add a few additional varieties to my 10 Varieties of Czech Christmas Cookies post. So maybe I’ll have 13 or 14 in that post before Christmas?

Here I’m featuring melt in your mouth coconut meringue cookies, which are also popular on Czech Christmas cookie trays. Like most Czech cookies, they are made small to be one or two-bites each. Virtually the only fat in these meringues comes from the coconut, unless you decide to dip them in chocolate, as well.

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Buchty Recipes (Czech sweet buns with fillings)

As the buchty continue to rise, they bake together.

This month, my Czech Christmas cookie posts are being viewed by hundreds of people. It’s quite exciting! I will not be posting any additional Czech cookie recipe this year, but thought I’d add at least one new Czech sweet to my blog. Buchty are very popular sweet buns that are usually filled with a family’s favorite sweet fillings. It is the case that many buchty fillings are used for other recipes, including some Czech Christmas cookie recipes. Given this, you may wish to keep note of the filling recipes, by themselves. Or, maybe consider filling your home with the lovely scent of buchty. My husband and I enjoy eating buchty for breakfast, but they can be enjoyed anytime!

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Malakov Trifle (Malakoff Trifle)

Malakov closeup profile view
“Mňam!” as Czechs say.

My Czech mother-in-law frequently made this trifle version of a Malakov (sometimes spelled “Malakoff”). Treasures of yumminess, like slivered almonds, banana slices, orange segments, and raspberry preserves filled vanilla wafer cookie sandwiches, reside in an intensely delicious thick chocolate mousse, which she called “Paris Cream”. It is best left to chill for at least 24 hours before final decorating and serving. Everyone I know that has tasted this has been overwhelmed with pleasure. For that reason, I sometimes call it “Chocolate Paris Cream Delight”. Continue reading

Czech and Slovak Flours in the US and UK (and substitutions)

Czech-Slovak flours
Hladká (smooth), polohrubá (semi-coarse), and hrubá (coarse) mouka

In the past, I have posted several Czech recipes on my blog. As an enthusiastic home cook and baker in the US, it is natural that I would make my native Czech husband foods that he grew up eating in Prague. My mother-in-law was an excellent home cook, and I’m lucky that she shared several recipes.

My husband and I have been together for almost 25 years now. Early in our marriage, I struggled to get some Czech dishes right, but have since mostly mastered them. In the early years, the flours I had access to in the US (or rather didn’t) were issues. In this post, I describe some of the most commonly used flours in Czech Republic – particularly wheat-based flours – and possible substitutions. The main wheat flours in Czech Republic are described according to coarseness, from smooth all the way to very coarse. Continue reading

Mazanec (Czech Easter Bread)

As a follow-up to my Christmas cookies of Czech Republic post, I decided to share my mother-in-law’s Easter bread recipe (“Mazanec”, in Czech). Mazanec is a slightly sweet bread with some fruit and nuts, and subtle vanilla and lemon flavor. My Czech husband has always preferred Mazanec over the similar, but differently shaped, Christmas bread, called “Vánočka”. Continue reading

Authentic Recipes for Czech Christmas Cookies and Sweet Breads (České Vánoční Cukroví)

Below you will find a large collection of authentic and traditional recipes for Czech Christmas cookies. I also  include Christmas breads, with two versions of vánočka. According to my Czech husband, my mother-in-law would make as many as 13 different varieties of Christmas cookies for her platter. I won’t be making that many, this year, but plan to have over 13 varieties in this post, and maybe even more, later down the line.

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