Place of origin
|Czech Republic and Slovakia|
|eggs and butter, yeast, sugar, raisins, almonds|
Vánočka is a braided bread, baked in Czech Republic and Slovakia (in Slovak called vianočka) traditionally at Christmas time. It is rich in eggs and butter, making it similar to brioche. Lemon rind and rum add color and flavor; the dough can also contain raisins and almonds, and is braided like challah. A vánočka may be built from three progressively smaller braids, stacked on top of each other; this is sometimes interpreted as a rough sculpture of the baby Jesus wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.
It has a reputation for being difficult to prepare, so in many households, superstitions and special customs are attached to the baking process. When making vánočka, it is said that one must think of everyone dear to you. Another custom is to avoid touching silver or metal to the vánočka. Finally, the person who is making the vánočka should jump up and down while the dough rises.
The bread is named after Vánoce meaning Christmas in Czech (Vianoce in Slovak).
Out of identical dough, a loaf called mazanec is made on Easter.