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Eastern European Christmas Bread Recipes

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In Eastern Europe and much of the world, every major holiday, religious observance or rite of passage is celebrated with a special bread. There are special Easter breads, Serbian slava bread, wedding breads and more. They are usually slightly sweet yeast breads and sometimes studded with raisins or other dried or candied fruits. The Eastern European bread recipes presented here are traditionally served at Christmas time. And from other cultures, here are Christmas Bread Recipes Around the World.

1. Bulgarian Christmas Bread Recipe - Koledna Pitka

Bulgarian Christmas Bread or Koledna Pita
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Bulgarian Christmas bread or koledna pitka requires only one rise. It is typically eaten on Christmas Eve and throughout the holidays. Often, a silver coin is tucked inside and the one to find it should expect good luck in the coming year. There are many ways to shape this bread, but I think this sunflower look is most festive.

2. Croatian Christmas Bread Recipe - Bozicni Kruh and Bozic Pletenica

Croatian Braided Christmas Bread Wreath
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
There are two types of Croatian breads served at Christmas time -- the stollen-like fruit-and-nut božićni kruh and the braided wreath-shaped yeast bread known as božić pletenica, which is made differently by every family, but sometimes with nutmeg, raisins and almonds, and is braided into a wreath and then glazed. Many place wheat with candles in the center of the bread and use it for a centerpiece for the dinner. This centerpiece is left on the table until the Epiphany, which is Jan. 6, when it is cut and eaten.

3. Czech Christmas Bread Recipe - Vanocka

Czech Christmas Bread - Vanocka
© Flickr by Cream Puffs in Venice
This recipe for Czech Christmas bread or vanocka is similar to hoska, chalka, challah and other Eastern European egg twist breads. Traditionally, this loaf is made of three braids of decreasing size placed one on top of the other, but a simple three-strand braid will work just fine.

4. Hungarian Christmas Bread Recipe - Fonott Kalacs

Hungarian Easter Bread
© Flickr by Vonsachsen
This recipe for Hungarian egg twist or fonott kalacs is a slightly sweet braided loaf with raisins served for Easter, Christmas or any time of year. In general, kalacs refers to any yeast-raised cake or sweet bread.

5. Lithuanian Christmas Bread Recipe - Kaledu Pyragas

Lithuanian Christmas Bread - Kaledu Pyragas
© Clementine's Shoes on Flickrs
This easy recipe for Lithuanian Christmas bread is made with a slightly sweet yeast dough that has white raisins and a poppyseed-honey glaze and it only takes one rise! Lithuanian Fruit Bread is also served at Christmas and Easter time.

6. Polish Christmas Bread Recipe - Chalka

Polish Egg Twist Bread or Chalka
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Polish chałka is a rich, braided egg bread that may or may not contain raisins. It's similar to Bohemian-Czech hoska, Jewish challah and French brioche. Chałka is served year-round, but especially at Christmas and Easter. If you have any leftover chałka, it makes delicious French toast or bread pudding with orange sauce or makowki (Polish poppyseed bread pudding).

7. Romanian Christmas Bread Recipe - Cozonac

Romanian Christmas Bread - Cozonac
© Yujai on Flickr
Romanian cozonac is a slightly sweet yeast-raised egg bread, similar to hoska, that is traditionally eaten for Easter, Christmas and New Year's. Bulgarians call this bread kozunak. It's considered the Italian panettone of the Romanians. When the cozonac dough is filled with farmers cheese, it becomes a pasca, similar to a Polish kolacz.

8. Russian Christmas Bread Recipe - Krendel

Russian Christmas Bread - Krendel
© Pastryday on Flickr
This recipe for Russian Christmas bread or krendel produces a pretzel-shaped sweet yeast bread filled with dried fruits that is lightly iced or, alternatively, dusted with confectioners' sugar or coarse sugar. In fact, "krendel" means pretzel in English. While kulich and paska are traditional for Easter, krendel is the preferred Christmas bread.

9. Serbian Christmas Bread Recipe - Cesnica

Serbian Christmas Bread - Cesnica
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for cesnica or Serbian Christmas bread is made with eggs and butter, unlike Cesnica #1 which is more of a fasting bread, probably served on Christmas Eve when no meat or dairy are allowed.

10. Slovak Christmas Bread Recipe - Vianocka

Slovak Christmas Bread or Vianocka
© Valcs on Flickr
This recipe for Slovak Christmas bread or vianočka is a slightly sweet yeast-raised raisin bread similar to Jewish challah, Polish chalka and Czech hoska, among others. It can be simply or elaborately braided and is a staple on Christmas Eve or štedrý večer, which means "generous evening."

11. Slovenian Christmas Bread Recipe - Sarkelj

Slovenian Christmas Raisin Bread or Sarkelj
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Slovenian Christmas bread or sarkelj is a slightly sweet yeast-raised raisin bread that is common throughout the Eastern and Central European countries. Usually it is just the shape and the number of braids or whether the dough is braided at all that sets them apart. This bread is not braided.

12. Ukrainian Christmas Bread Recipe - Kalach

Ukrainian Christmas Bread or Kolach
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Ukrainian Christmas bread or kolach is a slightly sweet yeast bread that is braided and shaped into an oblong loaf or three round braids stacked one on top of the other. In the latter case, a candle is placed in the middle and is an essential part of the Christmas Eve supper (Sviata Vechera).
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