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The Best Orthodox Christmas Bread – Recipe

Use this recipe to make Česnica

During Orthodox Christmas on January 7th, many Serbian families prepare a traditional Christmas bread known as Česnica (ches-nee-tsa). It’s an egg-based bread similar to brioche. It’s fluffy on the inside with a shimmering and crunchy crust.

A unique tradition is associated with Česnica. A coin is kneaded into the dough before the bread is baked and served. The coin represents good luck in the year to come, as well as prosperity, wealth, and health. At the table, each guest grips onto the bread and tears off a piece. So far in our family, the recipient of the coin each year has truly had an exceptional year.

To prepare Česnica, here’s everything you’ll need and how to make it.

Ingredients for Česnica:

  • 1kg flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup oil
  • 500 mL of milk
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • +1 extra egg for egg wash & 1 tbs of butter

Serbian Christmas Bread with coin

How to Make Česnica:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients until you get a sticky, stretchy dough. If the dough is too dry, add more milk.
  2. Knead the dough. (don’t forget to add the lucky coin in this step!)
  3. Cover the dough and let it rise for an hour.
  4. Slice off some of the dough for decoration (approx 1/4 for a braid). In my family, we keep it simple and remove approximately 1/4 for a large braid that we wrap around the top of the bread. Other families opt for more intricate details like leaves, smaller braids, and a cross. In this case, you’ll want to use a separate dough free of yeast.
  5. Create your decoration and attach it to your dough with an egg wash (cracked, whisked egg). Cover with egg wash and dots of butter.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 10 minutes and then 350 for the next 50-60 minutes. 20-30 minutes in, you may want to cover the bread with tin foil so the crust does not burn.
  7. Let cool and enjoy!

If you make your own Česnica, take a photo and tag us @SEEfest on Instagram so we can drool at your delicious Christmas bread creations.

A happy new year and happy holidays everyone!

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