This Sweet Houska Braided Bread with Almonds & Raisins Czech Vintage Recipe is a delicious wonderful yeast bread sprinkled with raisins and almonds. It is sliced and served warm. It can be a family favorite eaten any time of the year but it can be topped with green and red maraschino cherries for a festive holiday sweet treat.
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 packages active dry, or 2 cakes compressed, yeast
1/4 cup warm (not hot) or lukewarm water
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup canned diced citron (you can replace citron with lemon)
1/4 cup chopped, blanched almonds
About 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Melted butter or margarine
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
1. In a small saucepan, scald milk; stir in shortening, sugar, salt. Cool till lukewarm.
2. In a large bowl, sprinkle or crumble yeast onto 1/4 cup water (for compressed yeast, use lukewarm water); stir until dissolved.
3. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture, then 2 eggs, then 3 cups flour; with a spoon, beat until smooth.
4. Stir in raisins, citron (or lemon), chopped almonds, and about 2 1/2 cups flour (or enough to make a stiff dough).
5. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease all sides. Cover with a clean towel; let rise in a warm place (about 85° F.) about 1 1/4 hr., or until dent remains when a finger is pressed deep into the side of the dough.
6. Punch down dough; turn onto a floured surface; divide in half. Then divide one half into 3 equal pieces; roll each piece between hands into a strip about 18? long. Place strips 1? apart on a lightly greased large cookie sheet, and braid, beginning in middle and working toward each end. Brush top lightly with melted butter or margarine.
7. Divide two-thirds of remaining dough into 3 equal pieces; on a floured surface, form, the same way, into second, but thinner braid 18? long; place on top of the first braid. Brush top lightly with melted butter or margarine.
8. Form remaining dough into third, very thin braid about 18? long; place on top of the second braid. (Be sure 2 top braids are centered; if necessary, use toothpicks to hold braids in place while baking.)
9. Let rise in warm place about 1 hr., or until doubled in bulk.
10. Meanwhile, start heating oven to 375° F.
11. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water; when the loaf has doubled in bulk, brush with egg mixture. Decorate with whole almonds. Bake 40 to 45 min., or until done.
*** Especially nice served slightly warm. Makes 1 loaf.