This recipe for Bulgarian Christmas bread or koledna pitka requires only one rise. It is typically eaten on Christmas Eve and throughout the holidays. Often, a silver coin is tucked inside and the one to find it should expect good luck in the coming year.
Even though Bulgaria is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, Rozhdestvo Hristovo, literally “Nativity of Jesus,” is celebrated on Dec. 25, according to the Gregorian calenda (other Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar).
There are many ways to shape this bread, but I think this sunflower look is most festive. My recipe contains eggs, which some Orthodox Christians do not eat during Advent, so be forewarned before you start the recipe.
If you want to have a traditional Balkan celebration, these Bulgarian Christmas recipes should be a good start.
Bulgarian Christmas Bread (Koledna Pitka)
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 135 minutes
Yield: 1 Bulgarian Christmas Bread
– 1 cup lukewarm water
– 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 2.2 pounds/1 kg all-purpose flour
– 4 tablespoons oil or softened butter
– 4 large room-temperature eggs (reserving 1 egg yolk to brush on bread)
– 1 tablespoon salt
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in sugar and 2 tablespoons flour until well combined. Transfer to a stand mixer bowl, and add remaining flour, oil or butter, 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white (reserving remaining egg yolk to brush on the bread before baking), and salt.
Knead until smooth and pliable. If dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon warm water at a time until desired consistency is met. Likewise, if dough is too wet, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time until deisred consistency is met.
Divide dough into 7 equal-size balls. Place 1 ball in the center of a greased 12-inch baking tray like a pizza pan without a lip. Cover with greased plastic wrap while you roll each of the other balls into 10-inch circles and, using a pizza cutter, cut into 8 triangular pieces.
Lightly brush the top of each triangular piece with oil or melted butter. Stack three pieces on top of each other. Twist to form a cone. Repeat with remaining dough. You will have 16 “cones.” Arrange these around the center ball of dough with the wide side of the cone facing out. Cover and let rise until almost doubled. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Slash an “X” in the middle ball of risen dough. Brush bread all over with remaining beaten egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water. Bake about 15 minutes and cover top loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning.
Bake an additional 15 minutes or until instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the dough.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Pull off “cones” for individual servings.