Houska : Czech Sweet Bread Recipe

Thank you for sharing!

Last Updated on April 1, 2017 by Chef Mireille

I remember when I was in fifth grade in elementary school, we had to learn all the countries of Europe and their capital cities. Maybe it’s because I have such an unusual name in America and people are always butchering the pronunciation and the spelling of my name, but I was so intrigued with Czechoslovakia. I loved the way it sounded as it rolled off my tongue and I made it my mission to memorize how to spell it. When the teacher gave us an oral quiz going around the room giving us a country name which we had to spell both the country and the capital, I was so proud to get it right after the first few students he called on got it wrong. Humility was not one of my strong points:)

After all that work, I was so upset when the country changed its name to Czech Republic never being allowed to spell or say the long name again ๐Ÿ™

This is a traditional slightly sweet Czech bread usually made around Christmastime.


Yield: 1 loaf

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons dried candied fruit (tutti frutti)
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Combine water, milk and sugar in a bowl. Add yeast. Give it a quick stir and leave for 5-10 minutes, until it turns foamy.
In a large bowl, combine flour, butter, beaten egg, lemon zest, salt and mace. Add proofed yeast and mix to form a dough. Add raisins and fruit. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to form a soft and elastic dough. Knead for 5 minutes.
Place in a lightly greased bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non stick spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
On a lightly floured board, divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 12″ rope. Form the 3 ropes into a braid..

Spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray. Transfer braid to the cookie sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Brush braid with egg wash and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when tapped.

The bread has a great crispy exterior with a soft crumb inside.

Czech Christmas Bread

Mine took longer than usual to rise, but that might be due to the cold temperatures we are experiencing and my bread was left on a counter near a window.
Don’t be tempted to throw the bread away if it is not rising. Just be patient and let it go longer. I have even left it out overnight with amazingly delicious results.


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Reader Interactions


  1. The FIFTH INGREDIENT on your list is simply "1/4 cup of melted". I assume it is supposed to say butter, lard, chicken fat, oleo, etc. but some may be confused.
    Your loaf looks and sounds delicious!

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