There are a thousand different ways to make it! Each year we face the same dilemmas: mayo or yoghurt? Apples or no apples? The most adventurous cooks even add some Gothaj salami. By the time you finish your round of Christmas visits, you will have tasted so many different variants of it, you will get the gist. And once the New Year passes? It will probably take at least a whole year before you will want to try it again!
Christmas baking season always starts with the gingerbreads because once made they still need some time to get soft. Their sweet spicy smell will lure the Christmas mood into your house even when the autumn colors still shine outside your windows. We take our turns rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes out. When we only have a small ball of dough left, we create one random shape by hand. One year it was an almost dog, another year a slightly misshaped heart. The result goes into the oven together with the last batch. As soon as it leaves the oven, we split it among ourselves, have a cup of coffee and enjoy the beginning of the Christmas time together.
Braided Sweet Bread
In Czech the traditional braided sweet bread is called “Vánočka” so it has Christmas (“Vánoce” in Czech) even in its name. So, there is no way it would be missing from a Christmas table. Some people prepare the dough using Hera, some use butter and the fanciest cooks might even use lard. Someone leaves the dough rest under a kitchen cloth over night, someone puts it into the oven in two hours. Someone will serve you vánočka braided out of six strings, the most skilled masters might offer you even a 9 tail one covered in chopped nuts. In whichever way you decide to braid yours, whatever you put into the dough, there will always be that one person who picks out all the raisins. Everyone likes their vánočka differently. Someone likes it dusted with sugar, someone eats it with jelly, butter or even Nutella. One thing unites us all, though – without it there would be no Christmas.
There are many annual controversies surrounding the Linzer cookies. The most prominent being which jelly is the chosen one for this type of cookies. It needs to be a sour jelly to go with the sweetness of the cookies, so someone uses a sour cherry one, someone redcurrant and someone raspberry one.
Even though these cookies are named after an Austrian city Linz, no one in the said city knows why it would be so (the local Linzer torte is made of a different kind of dough). Here in Czechia, we all know them and each year we will try the Linzer cookies made by our mothers (aka the best ones), grandmothers, aunts, work colleagues, friends and pretty much everyone who ends every meetup in December and January saying: “Wait, I’ll give you some Christmas cookies!”.
If you ever visit Brno in the pre-Christmas time, there is no way you will not notice the ever-present Turbomošt selling stands. And what is it? As the name suggests, the main ingredient is hot apple juice. Its flavor combines nicely with the traditional Christmas spices such as cinnamon, star anise and clove. And to make sure it gives you the proper Christmas glow it is also boosted up with a shot of a strong apple liquor.
Old Bohemian Onion Soup
Maybe you’re not a fan of traditional Czech pea soup or sauerkraut soup. Maybe not even the fish soup is to your liking? Well, you ought to try the old Bohemian onion soup. The wine-based onion soup is best known in France, but you can also find it in many Czech households. It will charm you thanks to its delicious sour sweet taste and brownish color. The most prominent ingredients are of course onion, vegetable or meat broth and dry white wine which adds a distinct aroma.