Festive Recipe: Česnica

  • By Luštica Bay
  • 18 Dec, 2015
Česnica is a traditional Montenegrin flat bread shared at Christmas between family members. The custom of baking and sharing česnica is a beloved festive tradition, practiced across Montenegro.

The excitement on Christmas Day is palpable, but it’s not always just reserved for the festive, family day full of fun. For there is a certain anticipation for the discovery of the silver or gold coin that is traditionally baked into the česnica. Good luck and prosperity is bestowed upon whichever family member finds the coin in their share of bread. In short, competition is always high!

We wanted to share a failsafe recipe for česnica, which the whole family are sure to enjoy – both for its superb flavour and for its Christmas cheer.

Ingredients:

  • 250ml milk
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1kg of flour
  • Silver or gold coin
Mix together the flour, salt, yeast and one beaten egg in a mixing bowl
Pour the lukewarm milk into the flour mixture and mix everything together
Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed
Form the dough into a round shape, place it in a bowl covered with a tea towel, and leave to rise until it has doubled in size
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide in two pieces (smaller should be set aside for braiding)
Make a round shape loaf from the larger piece and transfer it to a slightly greased round baking tin
Divide the smaller piece of dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll out the pieces into strands and braid them using 3-braid method
Place braid on the top of the loaf
Use the remaining egg to make some egg wash (a cracked egg and a little bit of water). Brush the bread with the egg wash and cover with plastic wrap for a 40 further minutes. Preheat the over at 400F/200C
Place the tin into the oven and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes. The bread is finished when it’s beautifully golden brown on the top
Transfer the bread to a rack to cool.

Of course, don’t forget to place a coin inside when shaping the dough – and ensure you chew carefully!

The rest of Christmas Day can be spent in front of the fire, drinking fine Montenegrin wines such as   vranac and for something more warming, delicious hot   šljivovica   (plum brandy).

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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