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Cesnica Recipe #2 - Serbian Christmas Bread

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Serbian Cesnica or Christmas Bread

Serbian Cesnica or Christmas Bread

© 2009 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.

When served, the bread is broken, not cut, and the common link among all cesnica recipes is the silver coin baked inside. Whoever finds it will have luck in the coming year.

Makes 1 large Cesnica or 12 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) softened butter
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 sterilized silver coin

Preparation:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add eggs, salt, lemon juice, butter and 1 1/2 cups warm water. Mix until well combined. Gradually add the flour, mixing until well incorporated. Using the dough hook, knead about 10 minutes or until smooth (about 15 minutes by hand).

  2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover and let rise until doubled.

  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9"x3" round pan with cooking spray. The stoneware portion of a small slow cooker is a good pan to bake the bread in because it has high sides. Punch down dough and turn it out into the prepared pan. Tuck in the silver coin (don't use copper because the dough around it will turn green).

  4. Brush the top of the dough with a little oil, cover and let rise again about 40 minutes, or until not quite doubled. Bake 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. Turn out of pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: It is customary in some families to decorate the top of the bread with pieces of dough symbolizing a hobby or career for each family member -- wheat for a farmer and for prosperity, book for a teacher and so on.
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