Serbian Çesnica

Serbian Çesnica

No, I didn’t skip ahead to S. This is all part of my holiday recipe scheme! That’s a weird way to put it. Never mind. I hear this is what the cool kids eat in Serbia on Christmas Eve- it’s a soda bread baked with a silver coin in it. Whoever gets the slice with the coin in it will be blessed with wealth in the new year. Pro tip: Bake the bread yourself, remember where you put the coin, and give yourself the slice with the coin. Consider all that good luck to be your payment for making the bread. Although, for a yeast-y bread, this is surprisingly simple. Most breads need tons of ingredients, lots of bowls, and to rise for a really long time. Cesnica (one day I hope I’ll be able to pronounce that right) is low maintenance- and *good*.


1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 eggs (plus one more for the egg wash. So 3. 3 eggs)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons (or half stick) butter

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Silver coin

Start by proofing the yeast. Set aside ¼ cup of the water, and then pour the yeast in their. Let that proof while you get the rest of the ingredients together. Melt the butter, and crack the eggs in.Whisk them together with the lemon juice. This is the first time I’ve ever used lemon juice in bread! I guess that’s where the soda part of the equation comes from.

In a slow, steady stream, pour in the butter, whisking as you go. You don’t want to dump the whole thing in, as the hot butter will cook the eggs. I realized that with some cayenne and a double boiler, I’d have a great hollandaise. I’m saying great in a strictly technical sense. I hate hollandaise. It’s mayonnaise that’s trying too hard. I mean, I can relate, but still. Hollandaise is nasty.

By now, the yeast should have proofed, so pour in the yeasty water.

Stir that together, then in alternate batches, add the flour and water.

Keep going until you have a grainy ball of dough. 

Now knead it until it’s smooth. Use a stand mixer and dough hook if you’re a pansy. I like to do it by hand. Very therapeutic.

Let it rise, covered for about 40 minutes, and then? Then you have some fun. If you have a bundt pan, you don’t get to have fun. You get to have a bundt pan like a normal person. This is the better scenario. For the rest of you bundtless peasants, grab a baking sheet and a bowl. Roll the dough out into a cylinder, and wrap it around the bowl. Stand back and admire your handiwork. Feel resourceful. Pat yourself on the back. Tell yourself you could TOTALLY make it in the apocalypse. You can’t, but it’s nice to think about.

Stick the silver coin in, and make sure it’s covered so no one knows you’re rigging it. You could always, you know, be fair. That’s also an option.

Whisk up the last egg with a little bit of water,

and brush the whole thing on. This’ll give it a pretty golden sheen.

Bake it at 350 F for about 40 minutes, slice it up and serve it warm.


Please, please PLEASE tell people the coin is there. It’ll be hot because of the oven, and it’s also a major choking hazard.

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