Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recettes Secrètes: Grandma Blanche's Houska

"No, it's not braids of burnt flesh, it's Grandma Blanche's houska, which I made for Easter. Lemony, nutmeggy, awesome warm with a glob of cold butter. Still can't make it as glossy and puffy as hers, but it's good!"
My cousin Beth is pretty modest for how outgoing and wisecracking she is. No stranger to my blog (her Thanksgiving dinner mastery and corn pudding recipe were featured last November), I was shocked when she didn't seem to think she had anything to offer the blog upon my request recently. Then I randomly get this image and description in an email with mention of her pralined yams.. Um, yeah, exactly. Yum.
Consider this the first of many of our family's delicious traditional Bohemian recipes. True Recettes Secrètes!

Grandma Blanche's Houska
This was our grandmother's favorite dough to work with, most likely for its versatility. You can roll the dough, cut it into strips and criss cross across fresh sliced, sugared fruit, like strawberries, peaches and plums, and bake into a coffee cake. Or you can braid it into beautiful browned loaves, best served warm with cool butter and grape jelly. She always studded the bread with raisins and nuts, like walnuts or pecans. They are entirely optional. However, I do think a sprinkle of cranberries might do wonders during the holidays, especially with the hint of lemon and nutmeg in the dough!
I still have yet to learn how to avoid a rather thick browned crust due to the egg glaze. You may wish to experiment with the timing of the beaten egg, adding it later rather than before it hits the oven. I adore the crust, however.
By the way, leftovers make divine french toast, Bohemian style!

Houska or Coffee Cake

Mix the following together and let rise in a warm place, out of draft, for 45 minutes:
2 packets yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup warm milk

Then add:
2 sticks softened butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 to 5 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 lemon rind grated
1 teaspoon salt
Raisins and nuts are optional

Mix all together well, chill dough overnight.
Grandma said to separate the dough into six pieces and braid. I split the dough in half, then into three to make two loaves. Place on a cookie sheet, brush with a well-beaten egg yolk, and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Keep an eye out towards the end so as to not overbake.
Follow Beth's hilarious misadventures and poignant ponderings at theorbitalhousewife

1 comment:

  1. Before baking, try darting the top of the loaves with green and red cherries during Christmas. Like buttah to the Bohemian hips!