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Vanocka: Czech Sweet Christmas Bread (Traditional Recipe)

The best recipe for a real home-made Christmas cake called Vánočka. Make your own Vánočka at home!

Who wouldn’t love this sweet-smelling braid, which not only during the Christmas holidays always reliably scents the whole household. If you’ve only ever received this treat from your grandmothers and mothers but have never tried baking it at home, it’s high time you gave it a try this Christmas! Treat your guests to something traditional and yet so delicious!

What will you need?

  • 500g of sifted semi-coarse flour
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 100g melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon melted lard
  • 1 cube of yeast
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 250ml milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • a handful of raisins marinated in rum
  • a handful of walnuts
  • a handful of chopped almonds for sprinkling
  • 2 wooden skewers
  • 1 beaten egg for brushing

All these ingredients should be at room temperature.


  • Crumble the yeast into a large bowl and stir the mixture with a tablespoon of sugar until it is in a liquid state.
  • Pour in a little milk, the egg and the egg yolk. Mix everything together and gradually add the butter, lard, salt, flour, the rest of the sugar and then the remaining milk.
  • Work the mixture through with a rolling pin and turn out onto a rolling pin. Then knead the dough with your hands for about 10 minutes. It takes a while for the flour to absorb all the ingredients as it should, so take your time and play with the dough longer.
  • If the dough sticks, sprinkle it with flour, if it is not elastic enough, pour a teaspoon of oil over it. If you don’t have to, don’t add anything to the dough.
  • Shape the dough into a ball, return it to the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel.
  • Leave the dough to rise in a not too warm place. It should rest for approximately 3 to 4 hours. Then remove the dough and knead it again. While this is happening, incorporate the nuts and raisins.

Knitting a Vanocka

Using a knife, divide the dough into 8 or 9 equal sized loaves. The number depends on whether you know how to braid a 4-strand braid. If you do, there will be 9 loaves (4+3+2). If not, make a classic 3 strand braid. For this you will need 8 balls (3+3+2). It’s not as strong, but it’s much easier. Use your hands to roll the loaves into equal lengths.

Start knitting, always from the middle towards the ends. This will pull the strands out and change the length. Knit the bottom tier so that the result looks regular, especially from the side, which will be visible. Bend the ends downwards. Transfer the braid to the baking sheet and flatten it all the way down with the back of your hand. You now have a surface for the next tier. Repeat the process over and over, but do not fold the ends of the last braid under itself, but under the very bottom of the bundle.

Finally, poke 2 skewers diagonally opposite each other into the newly formed chaplet to make it a little firmer.

Baking Vanocka

While the chanterelle should still be rising on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 220°C. Just before you put the choux pastry in the oven, brush it with beaten egg and sprinkle it with pieces of almonds.

Bake for about an hour. Leave the oven set at 220° for the first 5-10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 150° for 25 minutes. The rest of the time, just finish baking at 100°C. After baking, let the cherry blossom cool completely first before sugaring it.

How to achieve the perfect homemade Vanocka?

  • The flour must never come into the dough after the milk! Remember that the flour always goes first and then the milk. By the way, the absorption properties of different types of flour are of course different from each other, it is not necessary to use all the amount of milk that is indicated in the recipe!
  • If you don’t add lard to the wiener, it won’t be properly moist.
  • The slower the waffle rises, the better. If the dough doesn’t have enough time to rise, air bubbles will form on the dough during baking and the result won’t look very beautiful.

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