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+ servings
a sliced loaf of traditional Vanocka bread dusted with powdered sugar and showing golden and dark raisins inside and a gnome in the background

Vanocka Czech Christmas Bread

Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rise Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Vanocka is a braided sweet bread from the Czech Republic and served at Christmastime in many eastern European countries. This Christmas bread is full of plump raisins and topped with a generous dusting of confectioners sugar.



  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active, dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 1/2 cups flour (660 grams)
  • 1 cup raisins golden and/or dark, soaked in rum
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons slivered almonds optional
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioners sugar for dusting


  • Add yeast and water to the mixer bowl with a pinch of sugar until frothy (about 5 mintues).
  • In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, milk, cream, sugar, and salt.
  • Ensure that the butter mixture is not too hot. It should be warm to the touch, not burning (about 110 - 115 degrees F). Add butter mixture into yeast mixture.
  • Turn mixer on low speed with a paddle attachment. Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, followed by about 3 cups of flour.
  • Switch to a dough hook. Add in raisins and zests, followed by the rest of the flour. Knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes. If you are mixing by hand, knead for 10 minutes while incorporating the flour.
  • Turn out the dough into a large greased bowl. The dough will be sticky. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down and turn onto a floured surface. Divide dough into 9 sections. Roll each section into a 12-inch rope.
  • Braid 4 ropes to make the base. Stack with a braid of 3 ropes. Twist the final 2 ropes and place them on top. Tuck the ends in underneath the loaf. Secure with wooden skewers if you wish. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush loaf with egg wash. Add slivered almonds if using. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown. You can check to be sure the internal loaf temperature reaches 190 degrees F.
  • Cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.


Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: European
Author: Katrina Bahl
Keyword: bread, christmas, raisins