Raisin Bread (Vianočka)

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Ingredients: leavened dough, raisins
Prep Time: about an hour

Another food item that can be prepared from the sweet leavened dough is vianočka. It is a sweet braided raisin bread that looks very much like the Jewish challah. It is often eaten for breakfast, topped with butter and jam (raspberry being my favorite). It is also often prepared for Easter and for Christmas. In fact, the name vianočka is derived from the Slovak word for Christmas, vianoce.

The trick in making this bread is in braiding the dough. I am sure that just about every Slovak babička (grandma) has her own way. Here I show you how my grandma makes it, by braiding four strands. The standard way is by braiding three strands so here is a slightly more advanced technique. Start by kneading the dough and lightly rolling it out to a rectangle about an inch thick. Cut it into six rectangles again about an thick. By the way, you should work raisins into the dough while kneading it. We didn’t do this, since my grandma also wanted to show me how to prepare buchty na pare. These dumplings are made out of the same leavened dough but do not contain raisins.

braiding vianocka, sweet bread
Take four of these braids and join them at one end. Add raisins if they were not already worked into the dough. Then fold the 2nd braid from the top to the bottom and the fourth one to the top.

Then take the first braid and move it to the bottom, underneath the bottom braid. Then take braid that’s on top and move it underneath the outer braids.

Then basically continue braiding until you run out of dough.

Tuck the ends together and place in your baking pan.

Now take the other two braids and twist them together. Place this “ponytail” on top of the bread. Brush on little bit of oil and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Vianocka, sweet Slovak braided bread
Finally bake on bottom of a preheated stove for about 20 minutes. Vianočka is also often brushed with egg yolk during baking to get a shinier crust. Slice and serve with hot chocolate.