Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas Bread (Česnica)

Verzija na srpskom

Today is the second day of my Christmas...I know it sounds strange, such a late Christmas, but some Christian Orthodox churches use old calendar that is two weeks late. So, I decided to make traditional Serbian Christmas bread. Serbian Christmas bread (Česnica) is regular bread but with a twist - coin added to a dough... after the bread is done you share it with the family members and who gets the coin in the piece of bread will be the lucky for the whole year. I made few of them before, but this time it turned out to be very beautiful. I think bread braiding added something special to a whole thing.

Here is my new video how to make Serbian Christmas bread  "Česnica"

You need:
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 oz active yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 9 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Stir together flour, salt, sugar, yeast, melted butter and one beaten egg in a mixing bowl. Pour warm milk and water into the flour mixture. Mix everything with the spoon.
  • Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for about 10 min. Add more flour if needed.
  • Form dough in the round shape (boule) and put in the lightly oiled large bowl to rise for 1 hour, to double its original size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and divide in two pieces, smaller should be for braiding.
  • Make boule (round shape loaf) from the larger piece and transfer it to slightly oiled baking pan. Although the size of boule is smaller than the pan, don't worry, it will rise and fill up the pan.
  • Divide smaller piece of dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll out the pieces into strands and braid them using 3-braid method. It is easier than you think.
  • Transfer braid to the top of boule to fit baking pan.
  • Brush the bread with egg wash (beaten egg with a little bit of water) and cover with plastic wrap for 40 min.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Bake bread for 35-40 min. The bread should be golden brown on the top. 
  • When it is done, transfer the bread to a rack to cool down.
  • And, pray to get the piece with the coin.

Note: Since this was my first post on blog ever, I was not so precise. You should increase amount of flour to 5 cups and even more, and decrease milk and water to 3/4 cup each.

You can make this shape, on picture below, if you place braid in spiral way over the top. 

This recipe has been featured in the New York Times' website, December 2011.

This is Česnica made by my dear friend Richard.

This Česnica was made by Radmila.

This Česnica was baked by Dušica. 


  1. I have a list 2-tablespoons (tbs) salt, is this correct???

  2. 2 tea spoons and 9 tablespoons butter

  3. Thank you so much for the correction, your recipe also was in the NYTimes with 2-tbs, hope they do a correction.
    Have a Merry Christmas (Jan. 7th,) I celebrate that date also..I'm Ukrainian/Hungarian American

  4. Pat,

    Marry Christmas to you too. It is kinda cool celebreting two Christmases.
    What a interesting background!

  5. active yeast, which one do you mean, dry or fresh?

  6. Thanks and Merry Christmas! :O)

  7. SOund/Looks really good. Im going to be Making/eating this for the first time, and I'm really excited.

    <3 I'll tell you how it works out

  8. Please let me know...
    Merry Orthodox Chrismtas to all!

  9. Evo mene na Baliju, sa američkim prijateljima o pravoslavnom Bozicu i cesnicom i ruskom salatom na stolu. Sve po Vasim receptima.
    Ja nikada ranije nisam kuvala, oni nikada ranije nisu jeli nasa jela, a sve je ispalo divno (cak nismo ni primetili deo sa ispravkom za so).

  10. Aleksandra, super, znaci Cesnica se pravila i na Baliju...

  11. Da li moze recept na srpskom jeziku? Mrsko mi prevoditi i pisati :)

  12. Stvarno izgleda prekrasno! Jako mi se sviđa kako je pletenica ostala savršena i nakon pečenja. Svaka čast!!

  13. What would happened if I used all-purpose flour instead?

    1. Sure. Add more flour, 5 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour would work. Merry Christmas!

    2. Hvala! I see you are in Baltimore. Check out Ambar in DC for Balkan cuisine. I like it there so much that I am baking them your bread and vanilice!

    3. Sorry, I thought you might be Serbian, we'll celebrate Christmas in two days. Our church uses old calendar. I tried to go to Ambar, but it was closed. I was so upset because we walked from Mall with two kids pushing double stroller to get there, we were craving Serbian food and the restaurant was closed, at noon, on Saturday. I don't know how to make my husband going there again, he was even more upset than me.
      That's really cool that you like vanilice. I do not have recipe for Vanilice on my blog, but I found this one
      Also, you can try many Serbian recipe on my blog.
      Thanks for Hvala!

    4. No, I'm not Serbian. Just hang out with them. I do feel like I am slowing turning into one with all of the baking I have done! I made the cookies last night. I think they came out good, but I have never had them before so I don't have anything to compare them to. Sorry about Ambar. Perhaps you went when they were first opening? They now have a great brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, but are closed at lunch on weekdays for winter. Maybe one day you will make it there. I hope so. Thanks for the food help!

    5. I see... Hope I will go to Ambar, I love idea about Serbian food tapas. It sounds impossible because this food is always served in large quantity... Serbs and Americans share the same love for large food sizes:)

  14. Do you know how many this recipe serves?

    1. It is very hard to say the right number... it is a large bread, I would say up to 12 people.

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