This is a traditional Bulgarian Christmas Eve bread, but would also be a lovely bread to share for Thanksgiving. Traditionally, a coin is baked into the bread to symbolize prosperity for the year ahead.
Bulgarian Christmas Eve Honey Bread
Prep time 15 mins
Cook time 25 mins
Total time 40 mins
– 3/4 cup warm water
– 2 tsp. instant or dry active yeast
– 500 g. all-purpose flour (about 4 cups)
– 4 Tbsp. vegetable, canola or any neutral tasting oil
– 2 Tbsp. honey
– 1/2 tsp. salt
Add yeast to warm water, stir and allow to sit for a few minutes. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour. Add the yeast/water mixture, the honey, oil and salt. Mix the dough until it comes together, adding a bit more water or flour, as necessary, then knead by hand or with your dough hook, into a soft, smooth dough.
Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.
When the dough has doubled, place on a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so. Cut out and set aside a fist-sized piece of dough (to be used to make the top decorations). Knead the fortune coin (I used a whole pecan in place of a real coin) into the remaining dough and then roll into a flat round shape. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Using the reserved piece of dough, cut small pieces and shape into the various elements to decorate the top of the bread. Decorate the bread with ears of wheat, apples, grapes or flowers. To make the top of the wheat, use some clean kitchen scissors to snip v-shaped snips into the dough. Once all your shapes are placed on the bread round, press down lightly over the top of them to flatten slightly and ensure they stick. In a small bowl, combine the honey and oil and brush liberally over the entire top of the bread.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400° until golden and cooked through, about 20 – 25 minutes. Check the bread regularly after 10 minutes and cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil if the top is browning too much.