Martin requests this bread each Christmas Eve. This bread is eaten Christmas Eve and throughout the holiday. A coin is placed inside the dough while kneading. The person who finds the coin in their piece of bread can expect good luck for the coming year. You can also add positive messages in the bread for the New Year ahead. Another Bulgarian tradition is what remains of the Christmas Eve feast you leave out on the table in the belief that deceased friends and relatives will come and dine when everyone is away or sleeping. I enjoy these traditions. This bread is time consuming but simple and tastes delicious.
Updated 2016 – Also, there is a simpler Pitka bread that Martin called a village bread that I bake now for Christmas Eve. This simple bread was what his grandmother made. The one above I found online in my early searches and I thought this was the one she made. He didn’t explain to me until he was older (and wiser) that the simpler Pitka was the bread his grandma made every Christmas. 🙂 Click the link above to get that recipe!
Pitka (Bulgarian Christmas Bread)
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2.2 pounds all purpose flour
4 Tablespoons oil or softened butter (I use oil, sunflower if I have it)
4 large eggs (reserving 1 egg yolk to brush on bread)
1 Tablespoon salt
Don’t forget your silver coin!
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. (I did this in my stand up mixer bowl) Stir in sugar and 2 Tablespoons flour until well combined. Transfer to a stand up mixer bowl and add remaining flour, oil (or butter), 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white and salt. Knead until smooth and pliable. If dough is too dry add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is met. Likewise, if dough is too wet add 1 tablespoon flour until desired consistency is met. (I used my dough hook with my stand up mixer to knead the dough)
2. Divide dough into 7 equal size balls. Place ball in center of a greased 12 inch baking tray. (I used parchment paper and sprayed the paper with Pam.) Cover with greased plastic wrap while you roll each of the other balls into 10 inch circles and, using a pizza cutter, cut into 8 triangular pieces.
3. Lightly brush the top of each triangular piece with oil or melted butter. (I used melted butter). Stack three pieces on top of each other. Twist to form a cone. Repeat with remaining dough. You will have 16 ‘cones’. Arrange these around the center ball of dough with the wide side of the cone facing out. Cover and let rise until almost doubled. (This takes 1-2 hours) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
4. Slash an ‘x’ in middle ball of risen dough. Brush bread all over with remaining beaten yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water. Bake 15 minutes and cover top loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
5. Remove to wire rack and cool completely. I couldn’t wait until cooled and it was very delicious!
The above recipe makes a very large loaf of bread. You will have plenty for a large crowd!