Day 16 of Advent: Christmas Cake Vánočka

There are no proper advent evenings without Christmas special dishes. Do you know what is really common to prepare in the Czech Republic? A special plaited bread called Vánočka that you can eat with butter or jam on it or just on its own!

Vánočka is a traditional Christmas sweet bread eaten in the Czech Republic during Advent. The name comes from the word “Vánoce” which means “Christmas” in the Czech language. The recipe for this dish is deeply rooted in history. It was first mentioned around 1400 by a Benedictine monk Jan of Holešov in his work “Treatise on Christmas Eve”. It is believed that this cake symbolizes Baby Jesus wrapped in a cloth. But how is one supposed to prepare it? Let’s find out!

First of all, the ingredients you will need:

  • 500g flour
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100g soft butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • Quarter liter warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon rind
  • 1 vanilla pod (inside part)
  • A quarter teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 nutmeg
  • Candied fruits, raisins, and almonds
  • 1 egg (for glazing before baking) 
Vánočka’s strands have their own meaning.

The traditional version of Vánočka has 9 strands and it’s not a coincidence. Each of the strands has its own meaning! The top two stand for knowledge and love. The strands on the bottom represent the four elements, namely fire, water, earth, and air. And three in the middle symbolize intellect, emotion, and human will. 

So how to do it? First of all, put flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix it and make a hole in the middle. After that slowly add 100g of the milk and crush the yeast. Mix it again and work in some of the flour to make a thin batter. Wait about 15-20 minutes for the yeast to increase in volume and don’t forget to cover it while waiting. 

Vánočka is hard to make, but it’s worth it!

The second step will be to add the remaining milk to the yeast and flour. Then also beaten eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Insert the kneading hook and knead into the baking machine for 7 minutes. After that, add the raisins and knead for a while. Put the dough in a bowl, cover it, and leave to rise for 60 minutes. Later remove and knead again, adding the nuts and raisins. 

The third step: divide the dough into 9 same parts. Roll them with your hands on springs of the same length and start plaiting. It’s the most complicated part of this cake weaving dough. You can have a look at this video to understand better how to do it. 

And afterward, as the fourth step, you can finally put the cake into the oven to 220 °C. Don’t forget to prepare the oven – preheat it. Just before she goes into the oven, smear it with beaten egg and sprinkle with pieces of almonds. Bake it for one hour, though for the first 40 minutes it’s better to bake to 220 °C, and the rest to 150 °C. 

And here we are! The cake is ready!

Check our blog regularly, as we have prepared for you many other Christmas recipes during this winter!

 Sources of the images: 

Yulia Ivanova

"As I am also an expat in the Czech Republic so I know and understand well how hard it is to adapt to a new environment. Therefore, I am here for you to share my experience, and I do my best to help you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *