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  • Serbian Easter Bread
  • Serbian Easter Bread
  • Serbian Easter Bread
  • Serbian Easter Bread
  • Serbian Easter Bread

Serbian Easter Bread

Food | April 12, 2017 | Nik Manojlovich
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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  • 3 hours
  • 12
  • Moderate

A rich tasting, softly sweetened egg bread scented with orange – this treasured family recipe for SERBIAN EASTER BREAD is perfect for Easter morning or any morning!

It’s often difficult to track the origins of my favourite family recipes, but as legend has it, my grandmother was taught how to make this fabulous bread from her grandmother.

I have a very early childhood memory of sitting at our kitchen table as a little tyke, watching my mother make this bread. Although my mom’s no longer with us, I truly feel her in my heart and thoughts each time I go through the steps, remembering everything she taught me.

Though I’m posting this recipe as Easter bread, don’t be surprised if you also see it referenced as a celebratory bread served on Orthodox Christmas (January 7) or on the feast day for a familial patron saint (St. Nicholas – December 19, St. John the Baptist – January 20, St. Michael – November 21). This bread recipe really goes the distance.

There are two variations on how to bake it for Easter. One is to form the dough into a KOLACH, a round bread studded with coloured, hard boiled eggs. The second is to form the dough into small buns called PUNDJE and PLETENICE, each baked with it’s own Easter egg. There’s a distinction on how the buns are shaped for either ladies or gents – more on that in a bit.

If you’ve never made a bread recipe before, this is perfect for your first try. Read on to make sure you’re up to the task.

INGREDIENTS – I’ve made a few minor tweaks to my mom’s recipe, but the one thing I never change is using the finest ingredients available. Make sure your eggs and milk are organic and fresh from the farm. Splurge and track down fresh-churned butter and check that your yeast and flour are fresh as well. You will taste the difference.

HANDMADE – Although I understand how simple it would be to make the recipe using either a stand mixer with a dough hook or a bread maker, nothing beats a dough pulled by hand. It has a luxurious shredded fibre when you tear into it, the dough appears less processed, and yes, it does have a softer texture.

DYING EASTER EGGS – I used to dye Easter eggs using coloured food dyes until my Aunt Alexandra suggested I follow tradition and use onion skins. She gave me one of her famous stories that went something like, “Back in the old country when the two widowed grandmas had nothing but a couple of onions and one tooth between ‘em, this is how they did it!”. I now think this authentic homespun way of dying eggs to be so charming. Head HERE to learn how to dye eggs using onion skins.

NO BUN INTENDED – What can I say? I’m going to follow yet another tradition, albeit a somewhat sexist one, and shape the individual buns two different ways. The beautiful, simple twirled braid is for all the single ladies and the twisted braid with the dangly loop is for all single guys. I’m not kidding, you can’t make this stuff up! Growing up, it was a ton of fun – all the kids received their very own bun on their breakfast plates, while the adults received slices of the Easter bread cut from the larger KOLACH.

Well, that’s the story of this SERBIAN EASTER BREAD. If I’ve inspired you to try this recipe, and especially if this is your first attempt at making bread, why not watch our step-by-step video a few times just to make sure you understand the process. I know you’ll have great results and be amazed by the fantastic flavour. It really is heavenly.

A gathering with our closest friends and family should always be celebrated, so why not make this SERBIAN EASTER BREAD and start your own family tradition?

Ingredients & Amounts

  • 1 cup of water, lukewarm
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 packages of dry active yeast
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • ¾ of a cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 extra large eggs plus 1 yolk, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • zest of one navel orange
  • 6 cups of all-purpose flour
  • egg wash: egg white plus 1 tablespoon of water, whisked together
  • butter and flour for pot
  • 9 hard boiled eggs, coloured

Instructions

  1. Pour the cup of water into a small bowl. Add the 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast into bowl. Cover with a plate and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour milk, sugar and salt into a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Right before the milk boils, add the butter and stir until melted. Set aside until temperature comes down to lukewarm.
  3. Pour the lukewarm milk and yeast mixtures into a large bowl and stir together. Add 3 cups of flour and stir until everything is well blended. Add eggs and orange zest and stir until incorporated.
  4. Begin adding the remaining 3 cups of flour slowly, sprinkling it bit by bit into the dough and working it in with your hand. Pull the dough up and away from the bowl to incorporate the flour. Continue sprinkling all of the flour until the dough comes together.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for about 4 minutes. Wash bowl and return it to counter. Transfer the dough back to the bowl. Rub a bit of butter between the palms of your hands and then rub it over the top and sides of the dough as well as along the inside of the bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm location until the dough doubles in size, about 1½ hours.
  6. Prepare your workspace: Butter and flour the inside of a medium-sized, straight-sided soup pot. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare egg wash by whisking egg white together with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside with a pastry brush.
  7. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead gently for a few moments, then divide in two.
  8. To form kolach: Take one half of the prepared dough and cut into four even-sized pieces. Form each portion into a round, slightly flattened disc. Place one disc into the centre of the pot and then add the remaining three to form the shape of a three-leaf clover. Brush with egg white mixture. Add three coloured eggs onto the dough, cover with a towel and let sit in a warm spot to rise for one hour.
  9. To form pundje and pletenice: Cut remaining half of dough into six even-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope. For pundje, twist the rope into a bun shape. For pletenice, hold rope in the middle, allowing the ends to hang, and form a twist by wrapping one end around the other. Brush with egg wash and place a coloured egg in the centre of each pundje and in the loop end of each pletenice. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit in a warm spot to rise for one hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 325°F with the rack in the lower-third position. Place kolach in oven to bake for 40 minutes. Once baked, allow to cool for about 20 minutes before turning it out of the pot and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack. Place pundje and pletenice in to bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Once baked, allow them to cool on baking sheet.
  11. Serve with butter.
Listen on MUSIC

Listening to great music is an important part of every Weekend at the Cottage! For this post I’ve selected The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom – The Chamber Choir of St. Peter Cetinje Seminary & Mihajlo Lazarević. This is a lovely recording of an Eastern Orthodox liturgy. Head to iTunes to download The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to your collection.

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Nik Manojlovich

Nik is the creator, host and brains behind Weekend at the Cottage. He loves sharing his wisdom and experience about the things that interest him most.

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