One of the most popular Christmas traditions held in Czech homes is the baking of Christmas cookies (cukroví). People always start well in advance, usually with St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, so that the cookies have enough time to get crispy. St. Nicholas Day is almost here, start your ovens and let the cookie baking begin!
Vanilla Rolls (Vanilkové rohlíčky)
Ingredients: 150g flour, 20g confectioner's sugar, 100g butter, 50g almonds or walnuts, 1 egg yolk, vanilla
Dip: confectioner's sugar and vanilla
Directions: Combine flour & sugar. Add butter, egg yolk and work into dough on a dusted surface. This should be done rather quickly to prevent the butter from softening. Should this happen, chill the dough before shaping. Shape dough into a long rope, cut into even parts and shape into crescent moons. Bake in a preheated oven. Dip hot rolls in confectioner's sugar.
Gingerbread Cookies (Perníčky)
Ingredients: 300g flour, 50g butter, 70g confectioner's sugar, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon Pernik Spice, 1 tablespoon baking soda
Icing: 1 egg white, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (extract), sifted sugar - to make the icing thick.
Directions: Combine all ingredients, adding enough flour to make a dough firm enough to roll out. Turn out on a floured board and roll out to 5mm (1/4-inch) thickness. Cut with various cutters (heart, animals, gingerbread men...). Place on baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven until firm to the touch, about 15-20 minutes.
TIP: These cookies freeze well so they can be baked ahead and then coated and decorated before serving.
Bear Paws aka Chocolate cookies (Medvědí tlapky alias Pracny)
Ingredients: 200g flour, 200g chopped butter pieces, 200g finely chopped walnuts, 100g sugar, 60g grated chocolate (or cocoa), 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves, 1 egg, confectioner's sugar, shortening.
Directions: Mix sift flour, sugar and ground cloves. Add chopped butter. Mix well, add walnuts, egg, chocolate (or cocoa) and work into dough. Roll dough and cut into equal pieces. Press individual pieces onto greased forms. Let cool for one hour. Bake on medium. Remove warm cookies from forms and dip in confectioner's sugar.
Cookies with jam (Linecké)
Ingredients:210g flour, 140g shortening, 7 g sugar, grated lemon peel, vanilla, 1 - 2 egg yolks.
Directions: Mix shortening with flour. Add sugar, egg yolks and mix. Knead and let cool. Roll the dough and cut into circles or stars. Half of them should have a round opening in the middle. Bake. Join two cookies with jam, placing the one with the round opening on top. TIP: The cookies will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
Wasps' Nests (Vosí hnízda)
Ingredients: 300g Piškoty (the Czech version of sponge biscuits), 120g powdered sugar, 120g butter, 3 tablespoons milk, 6 tablespoons rum (tuzemák), 2 tablespoons cocoa
Filling: 120g powdered sugar, 120g butter, 2 egg yolks, drop or two of rum for flavour
+ whole piškot biscuit to cover
Directions: Prepare a smooth dough from the specified ingredients. Press small pieces into the special forms that have been coated inside with sugar. Make an indentation in the dough and fill with the butter filling. Cover with whole biscuit. Remove from form. Let solidify in fridge.
TIP: You would need a hive form, but you can use an empty chamber from a grocery store cardboard egg carton.
Sweet Czech Christmas bread (Vánočka)
Ingredients: 500ml milk, 40g fresh yeast (or 1 tablespoon dried yeast), 100g sugar, 900g flour, pinch of salt, grated lemon peel , 1 egg, 1 eggyolk, 100g butter (melted and cooled), 50g raisins
Icing: 1 eggwhite, 50 g almonds, peeled and halved
Directions: Mix all dry ingredients. Cut butter in. Add beaten eggs to warm milk, stir in raised yeast mixture. On floured board work the liquid into the dough for 10 minutes. Let rise until double in bulk. Return to board and knead in almonds and raisins. Divide dough into 9 parts, rolling each piece by hand in strips 20 inches long. Make 3 layers of twists, the bottom one out of 4 strands, the middle one of 3, and the top one out of 2. Have greased baking sheet ready and form the bread on it, stretching and shaping the twists so they sit firmly on top of each other. Let rise again, then brush top with mixture of egg yolk mixed with milk. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes.
TIP: Don't cut while hot.
Do you want to know more about Czech Christmas traditions?
Make sure to check out our handy infographic!
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