Mazanec – Czech Easter Bread
The trick to making a light soft Easter bread is time. I start the bread in the morning. The process of mixing the dough only takes a few minutes. I knead the dough on a floured surface for another few minutes then place it in a bowl. Bread rises best in a warm moist place. I proof the dough in my oven. While I am preparing the dough I put a small pot of water on the burner to boil. When it comes to a rapid boil I place the pot in the bottom of my oven and close the door. When the dough is ready I place a warm damp tea towel over the bowl and put it in the oven. After the dough has risen and has been shaped into loaves, I put the bread back into the oven to proof. I boil the pot of water again and place it in the bottom of the oven, close the oven door and leave it for several hours.
Mazanec – Czech Easter Bread
4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
4 oz. (120 g) butter
½ cup (120 g) fine granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 (30 g) cube of yeast or 1 packet of (5 g) dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of warm milk
heaping tablespoon ground fennel or anise
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
handful of raisins
2 tablespoon candied orange peel
2 tablespoon peeled walnuts
2 tablespoon peeled almonds and mated
1 packet of vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1-2 tablespoons rum
- 1 egg beaten white for glazing.
First crumble the yeast into a bowl, add a tablespoon of flour, sugar spoon, pour ½ cup (100 ml) lukewarm milk and stir. Set aside to leaven. In another bowl, whip softened butter with sugar and egg yolks until foamy, gradually add almond extract, rum, vanilla sugar, salt, zest of lemon, fennel, leavened yeast, and the rest of milk. Then gradually stir in flour mixture and raisins, orange peel, roughly chopped walnuts and almonds (set aside a few almonds for topping the finished bun). Work the dough with your hand on a floured surface until smooth and flexible. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Cover with towel and let rise in warm place for about an hour or two. Cut the risen dough into two, work the dough with your hands to form two round loaves. With a sharp knife, cut a shallow cross in the top of each loaf.
Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Place loaves on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Put in a warm place to rise for 3 to 6 hours. The time it takes for the bread to rise depends on the type of yeast used and how warm is your house. The key is not to rush it. When doubled in size, put in preheated moderate oven at 375 F(190 C) for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 215 F (100 C) for 45 minutes. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped when done. A long skewer can be inserted in the middle of bun if the skewer is dry and not sticky after pulling it out, it is done.
Normally the top of each loaf is decorated with sliced almonds however I arrived a bit late at the grocery store and to my dismay, couldn’t find any sliced almonds, which explains why my buns are bare.