Slavski Kolac: Serbian Slava Bread

Serbian Slava Bread Decorated in Traditional Style
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Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Proofing: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
957 Calories
37g Fat
130g Carbs
25g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 957
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 47%
Saturated Fat 21g 105%
Cholesterol 205mg 68%
Sodium 651mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 130g 47%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 3mg 16%
Calcium 56mg 4%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 256mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Serbian tradition of slava bread is an important part of the local Orthodox Christian customs. Dating back many centuries, the tradition involves each family honoring its patron saint once a year through a special bread loaf, red wine, and candles. To commemorate this important ritual in the family, a priest might come to bless the food and wine before the festivities begin. This recipe for a traditional Krsna Slava celebration yields a wonderful yeasted bread with a lot of history and meaning. This simple, yet delicious recipe requires just a few pantry staples like flour, eggs, and butter but produces a doughy and flavorful bread that also makes a beautiful centerpiece thanks to the pretty decorations added to make it a celebratory bread truly worth of a patron saint.

Though the bread is a key component of the celebrations, the menu is extensive and most families go all in cooking and preparing for many days ahead of the date. Hosting friends and family is customary, so these festivities are a remarkable part of the year within each family. Soups, smoked meats, lamb, pork, confections, and plenty of drinks are offered to guests all day long. But despite the multitudes of foods that comes out of the kitchen, this bread is always present and an important part of the day. To make it you need to plan ahead, as it requires a few hours of proving, but don't miss out on trying it because it is as tasty as it is pretty.

Ingredients

For the Proofed Yeast:

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (8-ounces) unsalted butter, softened, more for the bowl

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 6 to 7 cups bread flour, or all-purpose flour, divided

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tablespoon water

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Yeast

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water, flour, yeast and sugar. Set aside until the mixture becomes frothy, about 10 minutes.

Make the Dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the warm water, butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Mix on medium speed until well combined, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Switch to the dough hook. Add the reserved proofed yeast mixture and about 4 cups flour. Mix on medium speed until well combined, scraping down the bowl occasionally.

  2. Add the remaining flour gradually, continuing to mix until the dough forms a a stiff ball that holds together (you may not need all the flour). Increase the speed to medium high and continue to knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, in a large bowl, mix the dough by hand as directed above, kneading about 10 minutes.

  3. Add the dough to a large, clean bowl greased with butter. Set aside in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Shape the Loaf

  1. When double in size, knead again briefly. Reserving a handful of dough to decorate the top, make a round loaf.

  2. Place in a well-greased 9-inch round, 3-inch deep pan.

  3. Decorate the edge of the loaf with a braid and a cross in the center with 4 backward Cs in each quadrant. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the egg with the water to prepare the egg wash.

  5. Brush the bread loaf lightly with the egg wash. Bake for 1 hour or until nicely brown.

  6. When cool enough to handle, remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

  7. Enjoy.