Houska – Czech Braided Bread
Houska is traditional bread roll baked and consumed in the Czech Republic. Typical ingredients include wheat flour (but other types can be used), water, yeast, and salt. They are often topped with poppy seeds, caraway seeds, linseeds, or sea salt.
Egg Wash:
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, mace, eggs, and 3 cups of the flour to make a batter. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, sift remaining 5 cups flour.
  4. Stir down the batter; add lemon zest, raisins, and almonds.
  5. Add to flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead 10 to 12 minutes by hand or with a dough hook until smooth and elastic.
  6. Place in a greased bowl; cover; let rise until doubled. Punch down; divide in half; cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Dough Shaping
  1. To shape, divide each half into 10 pieces: 4 larger pieces; 4 slightly smaller pieces; and 2 small pieces. Roll all pieces into 16-inch ropes, tapering the ends.
  2. Place the four largest ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid. Pinch ends together. Using the side of your hand, indent the center of the braid lengthwise. Braid the 4 smaller pieces and lay this braid lengthwise on top of the first braid; indent again. Twist the final two pieces together and lay on top of second braid. Pinch all ends together and tuck underneath the loaf. Fasten ends and top with about 5 toothpicks so the loaf will hold its shape during baking.
  3. Cover; let rise until doubled.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Beat egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush egg wash on braids.
  6. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 35–40 minutes or until the internal temperature registers about 200 degrees. If top browns too quickly, tent with foil. Cool; remove picks.
Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of the Home Baking Association, Kansas Wheat, and NationalFestivalofBreads.com.