Czech Christmas Houska


Houska is a traditional Czechoslovakian Christmas bread made with candied fruit, almonds, and raisins. Depending upon local customs and family preferences, some people toast it and top it with jelly or butter and powdered sugar. It takes a full day to make, but it's well worth the effort.

Prep Time:
1 hr
Cook Time:
45 mins
Additional Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
5 hrs 45 mins
2 large loaves



  • 1 (0.6 ounce) cake compressed fresh yeast

  • ¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

  • ½ cup white sugar

  • ½ cup butter, softened

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups scalded milk, cooled

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour


  • ¼ teaspoon orange zest

  • 1 pinch ground ginger

  • 1 pinch ground mace

  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup golden raisins

  • ½ cup candied mixed fruit peel

For Finishing:

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 tablespoon milk

  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds

  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


  1. Make the sponge: Dissolve yeast in warm water.

  2. Cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl. Add beaten egg and salt. Stir in cooled milk, then yeast mixture. Sift in flour and beat until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  3. Make the dough: Stir orange zest, ginger, and mace into sponge. Add flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Knead in raisins and candied peel. Place dough into a well-oiled bowl and turn once to coat the surface. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  4. Divide dough into 10 parts. Roll dough into ropes of desired length (make sure they are equal); let rise for 15 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Generously grease a baking sheet.

  6. Place 3 ropes dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Starting at the center and working toward each end, loosely braid ropes; pinch ends together to seal. Twist 2 more ropes together and place on the base of the braid. Repeat this process to form a second loaf with remaining dough.

  7. Whisk egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl. Brush egg wash over each loaf and sprinkle with almonds. Let rise for about 45 minutes.

  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer loaves to a wire rack. Cover with a tea towel to make a soft crust; let cool completely.

  9. Sprinkle cooled loaves with confectioners' sugar.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

177 Calories
5g Fat
29g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 30
Calories 177
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Sodium 110mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 32mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 89mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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