Austrian Vanocka

A Czech Christmas bread baked in northern Austria. Makes one very large loaf or three smaller ones



  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  2. Add the milk and sugar and let stand until the surface becomes foamy in about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in three cups of the flour, butter, eggs, orange peel, almond extract, nutmeg, and the salt.
  4. Beat until very smooth.
  5. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 to 8 minutes while adding the raisins and almonds a little at a time.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn it over once or twice to coat it with grease.
  8. Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper and set it in a warm, quiet place until it has risen to double its size (about 1 hour).
  9. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured board and divide it into threes * divide each piece into thirds and, with your hands, roll each into a rope about twenty inches long.
  10. Braid the threes.
  11. For one loaf, put the biggest braid onto a lightly-greased baking sheet, the bigger braid on top, and the big braid on top of that.
  12. For three loaves, arrange the three (equal) braids separately on the lightly greased baking sheet.
  13. Let rise again for about an hour.
  14. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 45 yo 60 minutes.
  15. Check at 45 minutes by tapping on the loaf.
  16. If it is done, it will sound hollow.
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