Czech Easter Bread – Mazanec

As I was thinking about what I could bake my thoughts turned to Easter.  So I decided that, having  made Hot Cross Buns on the blog and in videos I would need to do something a little different.  So I took to researching on the internet what I might make.  I came up with a few ideas, but first I thought I would make Mazanec which is a lovely sweet bread eaten at Easter in the Czech Republic, and also in Slovakia I believe.  In fact a variation of this bread is enjoyed throughout Eastern European countries at Easter. Certainly when I was living for a while in Prague I ate it and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Mazanec is a sweet bread that has raisins in it, often soaked in a little rum first.  Sometimes slivers of almonds are included in the bread and more are sprinkled over the top before baking.

Although it isn’t Easter until the beginning of April I thought I would make this bread now, just to show how easy it is, so that others can consider baking it at Easter time.

This bread is eaten during Easter week in the Czech Republic, often with butter spread on it, but sometimes just plain or with fruit.  

Although the recipe takes a little time to make, as you have to let the dough prove prior to shaping and baking, it is well worth the small amount of effort required.  Having checked various recipes and watched several videos I noticed that in many instances the bread ‘cracks’ during baking.  This it seems is quite normal, so I didn’t worry too much that mine had done the same.

My recipe is enough for one large loaf, or two smaller ones.  The dough can also be divided into stranded and plaited and then formed into a circle before baking.  For mine I just made one large loaf and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  I cut a cross in the top and although the loaf cracked that often happens and doesn’t affect the taste in the least. It tasted delicious, similar in some respects to Pannetone.  I will be making this again for Easter.

Mazanec – Czech Easter Bread


Mazanec – Czech Easter Bread – Video

Ingredients:

  • 500g (4 cups)strong white bread flour
  • 25g(3 tbsp) strong white bread flour
  • 200ml(1/2 cup+1/3 cup) lukewarm milk
  • 125g(one stick + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 100g(1/2 cup) caster or granulated sugar
  • 3 medium(large in USA) egg yolks
  • 1 medium(large in USA) egg for brushing
  • 60g(scant 1/2 cup)raisins
  • 60ml(1/4 cup) dark rum, optional
  • 50g (1/3 cup) flaked/shaved almonds + more from sprinkling
  • 14g(2 packets) Active dried yeast
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • seeds from one vanilla pod(or tsp vanilla extract)

Method:

  1. Soak the raisins in the rum for an hour(if you are using rum). Then drain the raisins and discard the rum(or do with it what you wish).
  2. In a bowl place 100ml of the lukewarm milk, 2 tsp of sugar, 25g flour and the active dried yeast and stir, then leave to activate for 20 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the kneading attachment fitted(this can all be done by hand but will be much harder work) place the flour,  sugar, salt, vanilla seeds(if using extract pour that into the milk), lemon zest and almonds.  Mix around thoroughly.
  4. Add the milk, melted butter, raisins, egg yolks and the yeast mixture.
  5. Knead on slow until all is combined. 
  6. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes.
  7. The dough will still be a little sticky, but well kneaded.
  8. Lightly flour the work surface and tip the dough out onto it.
  9. Give the dough a few kneads and shape into a ball.
  10. Place into a bowl, lightly oiled, and turn so that the dough is covered with oil.
  11. Cover with a damp towel, or some plastic wrap, and allow to prove in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  12. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out.  Then shape again into a round loaf shape(at this stage you could divide in two and make smaller loaves, or you could make one small loaf and three braid plate the remaining dough and form into a ring).
  13. Place the shaped dough onto a baking tray and brush all over with egg wash.  
  14. Sprinkle with more flaked/shaved almonds.
  15. Cut a small cross into the centre top of the dough.
  16. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  17. Cover the dough with a damp towel, or plastic wrap(loose) and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes.
  18. Place in the oven and bake for 60 minutes, then test with a skewer(or by internal temperature.
  19. If a skewer doesn’t come out clean, or if the internal temperature has not reach between 88C/190F and 96C/205F then leave to bake for a further 10 minutes and test again.
  20. If the bread has browned enough you can lightly cover during baking, with aluminium foil.
  21. When the skewer comes out clean and/or the temperature has reached the correct level remove from the oven and place of a wire rack to cool before slicing.





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