Vánočka is a cake that used to appear on tables in the Czech Republic during Christmas! If you imagine a delicious cake accompanied by flavors of almonds and lemon notes, you must try this recipe!
Note – just like student’s chocolate can also be eaten by people who do not study, and Kielce mayonnaise can be eaten outside of Kielce 😉 You can also prepare Vánočka outside the holiday season and I guarantee you that it will taste equally delicious! 🙂
Czech cuisine may not be associated with desserts, but it has several items worth attention! For sure, however, your first thought will be dumplings, garlic soup or svickova or fried cheese! These associations are very correct. However, when in the Czech Republic, it is worth trying dumplings with fruit, cones with poppy seeds, strudel and many other delicacies.
Vánočka – History and tradition
Vánočka is a Christmas pastry popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (here it is called vianočka). It owes its name to the word “Vánoce” which means Christmas.
It is said that its roots date back to the very beginning of the 15th century. It was probably meant to symbolize baby Jesus wrapped in cloth. The exact date of its creation is unknown, but in the 16th century its production was reserved for pastry chefs. In 18th century people started making it at home. Originally it was called húska or calta.
There are many customs that were associated with baking this cake. Some beliefs said that you can’t touch it with metal objects, and others that you have to think about loved ones when preparing it. On Christmas Eve, as many cakes were baked as there were participants of the supper + one more. Vánočka is also a good thing to give someone as a gift. Yeast dough, from which it is made, symbolized growth and prosperity, which is why it is a frequent Christmas gift to this day.
The “rays” or pieces of dough, from which the cake is baked, also have their symbolism. Originally, there should be 9 of them and that’s the number you should braid, but I failed at six, so I didn’t go to nine.
- 250 g cake flour
- 100 g flour
- 125 ml of slightly warm milk
- 20 g of fresh yeast
- 70 g of butter
- 2 eggs (including one for brushing the dough before baking)
- 60 g of sugar
- vanilla sugar (one bag)
- 40 g chopped almonds (can use flakes)
- 40 g of raisins
- a flat teaspoon of salt
- peel of one lemon
- almond flakes on top
We start by making the leaven for the dough. Pour about 75 ml of slightly warm milk and yeast into a bowl. In the next bowl, mix both types of flour. After mixing, add a little at a time to the milk and mix until you get the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Coat with flour on top and set aside in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
At the end of rising leaven, melt the butter in a pot and leave it to cool slightly. In a bowl, beat the egg. Add all ingredients to the dough. There should be the remaining milk, beaten egg, sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, remaining flour and grated lemon zest. We knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. I used a robot with a hook and set it for 10 minutes. At the end, add raisins and almonds and mix. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.
Divide the finished dough into six parts (although originally it should be nine – if you can do it :)). We create rolls about 30 centimeters long and weave them. Put the braided dough in a warm place for about an hour to rise a little more.
Then brush it with egg and sprinkle with almonds. Bake for about 40 minutes at 160 degrees. Mine didn’t grow too tall, but it’s also a matter of braiding skills (it was long ;)).
It tastes best warm, but is edible for several days. Tastes great when taken out of the oven! I smeared it with slightly salted butter and it was an interesting option!
Worth to try?
I was very positively surprised myself! Delicate and fluffy dough, lemon aroma and almonds are something I can eat every day! 🙂 Despite the fact that the recipe may look complicated, it is not at all and after making it for the first time you will definitely reach for it again and again! Vánočka is a Christmas cake, but I already know that it will appear at my place on other occasions!