In Prague, Easter celebrations are more about welcoming spring than anything else.
Text And Photos By Nancy Lopez-McHugh
Easter is right around the corner and the city of Prague is gearing up for the celebrations. The first signs of Velikonoce (Easter) are the markets that open up all over the city. The small vendors sell traditional hand decorated Easter eggs, and pomlázka which are decorated pussywillow twigs. Along with many other souvenirs you will also find gingerbreads baked in the shape of lambs, eggs and even chicks. At the markets you will also have a choice of typical Czech food and beer to enjoy as you take a stroll through the markets.
I am not religious so Easter is not a holiday I have paid attention to in the Czech Republic. From what I’ve seen and know about Easter in the Czech Republic, I would say it is more like a celebration of spring than a religious holiday. Czech Republic was under communism for a long time and religion was oppressed. Communism has been replaced by commercialism and the freedom to practice any religion. While most Czechs have no religion there are Christians here who will be going through the rituals of Easter as well as the nonreligious people following with tradition. Easter eggs will be decorated, traditional Easter dishes will be served and the boys will visit girls to spank them with their pomlazka. The pomlazka is used because tradition says that by being spanked the girls will be blessed with health and beauty during the whole year. I’m ready to be spanked, who else is with me? The spanking is accompanied by traditional carols and the boys are rewarded/thanked with a special hand decorated egg from the girls. If it’s men that do the spanking then they get a shot of alcohol. It’s almost like trick or treating in the states, the boys want to visit as many girls and receive as many rewards as possible. Some girls get their revenge by pouring buckets of cold water on the boys. This all sounds like fun and a bit naughty, lets move on shall we?
As is typical of many holidays, religious or not, around the world there is always food to go with the celebrations. I will be telling you about the baked Easter treats. Czechs will be baking gingerbread, cakes shape like a lamb that are dusted with powdered sugar, cross buns, Jidasky buns, and Mazanec which I will be showing you how to bake today. Mazanec is a sweet yeasted bread made with rum soaked raisins and topped with almonds. The bread has a crusty golden surface but is soft and delicious inside. You don’t have to be religious or wait for Easter to bake this bread. It make a great accompaniment to coffee or tea and it can be enjoy at breakfast or as dessert.Print
Mazanec and Other Czech Easter Traditions
- Author: Nancy Lopez-McHugh
- Total Time: 55 minutes
Mazanec a traditional sweet Czech Easter Bread.
- 4 tbsp. rum
- 150 g or 5 oz raisins
- 42 g or 1.5 oz fresh yeast
- 400 ml or 13/4 cup lukewarm milk, use whole milk
- 200 g or 7 oz (1 cup) sugar
- 1 kl or 2.2 lbs. a.p flour
- 1/2 tsp. lemon zest or orange zest
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 40 g or 2 heaping tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- slivered almonds to decorate
- 3 bowls, parchment paper, baking sheet
- In a bowl pour the rum over the raisins, stir well and set aside.
- Yeast starter:
- In a bowl combine the yeast, milk and a couple tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside.
- Once the yeast has risen : In a separate bowl combine the flour, rum soaked raisins, salt, and lemon zest. Stir to well combine the ingredients. In a separate bowl mix together 3 of the eggs,melted butter, oil until well combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the yeast and egg, fat liquid into the dry ingredients. Work the dough until it becomes a smooth and elastic dough. If need be add a little more flour. Grease a large bowl, place the dough, cover and allow to rise for 11/2 hours.
- Punch the dough down, divide the dough in halves, knead and shape into two loafs. Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush over the loaves. Allow them to raise for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180c or 356 f. Sprinkle the almonds over the loaves, and bake in center of oven for 35 – 40 minutes. If the top of the loaves is browning too much cover with aluminum foil for the remaining time. Allow to cool before slicing.
- Serve with butter, honey, jam or any other toppings desired.
Adapted from Albert Magazine
Makes 2 loaves
* You can cut the recipe in half to make a smaller loaf if you like.*
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
Enjoy and Veselé Velikonoce! (Happy Easter!)
Nancy Lopez-McHugh is a food blogger, photographer and published author. Most recently she has published "Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide To Better Photos".
This Easter bread looks delicious, in Croatia we have something very similar called Pinca, but without almonds. I loved reading about Czech traditions. I visited Prague this winter and I’m still under impression, such a powerful and beautiful city. For me it’s the most beautiful city in Europe.
Hi Tamara, I’ll have to check out Pinca too. Yes Prague has a very magical aura to it that seems to stick with people. Happy Easter.
I was born in Czech republic …I like to bake also many tradition goodies from Czech …I was long time sick and a like to see my Mom in Czech after 10 years..its still not possible to go.I bake for People here Czech cookies for Christmas and Easter with love and with tradition from Czech.Today I find this page and I have wonderful Time read comments Thank You …Happy Easter and please no spanking !!!!!!!!!!!
Ahoy Jitka! I hope one day very soon you can come home to visit your mom. It is wonderful that you continued with your Czech traditions while living abroad. They are part of who we all are and something to cherish. I hope you had a lovely Easter, and no spanking :)
I am looking for a recipe my czech grandmother would make. They were small doughnuts, and were filled with prunes. I believe they were fried and then cover with sugar. Do you know what I speak of?
They are called KOBLIHY, similar to your yeast doughnuts.
Jackie, they are called buchty, one is buchta. You use sweet yeast dough – flour, milk, yeast, little sugar, butter, salt and egg yolks. Let rise, have italian pruns (fresh) ready and cut reised dough by spoonfull on floured board. Open up dough peace and close it over the dough. Have ready melted butter a lot of it, dish with higher sides amd put each pease in the dish one close to another,seam down, buttering them between ansd over and under. Fill the dish and bake. When done golden brown and it seems like they are pulling apart, put reminding butter over it, powdered sugar and enjoy.
“Buchty” are filled yeast dough rolls, that are baked. “Koblihy”, as stated correctly below, are more like donuts, a filled, yeast dough that is deep-fried. I was born in the Czech Republic in 1922, and came to the United States as an adult in 1949. My father was a baker for the surrounding area where I grew up. I learned at his knee, and still am making buchty, koblihy and mazance today.
Happy Easter to all.
What a great story! The traditional spanking. The bread looks delicious.
Hehe, yeah it’s very unique. Thank you it was tasty.
I’m ready to try this Czech Easter tradition… ;)
The bread or the spanking? Just kidding :) Feliz Pascua Miriam. :)
I was looking for mazanec recipe online and came across your blog.
I’ve got to say it is pretty good insider on Czech Easter traditions.
I grew up there during communist era and had done all the traditional
Easter decorating and runing from boys to avoid pomlazku. Anyways I am ready
To try this recipe and see if it tasted as good as my moms…I loved eating it
With butter on top and hot cocoa:-)
I hope this recipe was comparable to your moms. As a foreigner in Czech Republic I can only tell a little bit about your countries wonderful traditions. Butter definitely, next time I will have it with hot cocoa, sounds so warming.
There’s a mistake in the instructions: it doesn’t say what to do with the rest of the sugar. It should go in with the dry ingredients, I assume.