Česnica: The lucky carb


Jovana Kuzmanovic

Česnica is the only carb that people aren’t avoiding this year.

With the start of the new year, everyone is reminiscing on the good and bad times of 2019 and hoping that 2020 will be their year to shine. Therefore, this recipe for česnica (Serbian Christmas bread) could bring you one step closer to making 2020 a year to remember.

A česnica is a traditional bread that Serbians prepare for their Christmas meal on Jan. 7. The unique part of this bread is that a coin is kneaded into it before it’s placed in the oven. At the beginning of the meal, everyone together rotates the česnica three times around. Once the bread is spun, everyone rips off a piece and whoever has the coin in their piece is supposed to be exceptionally lucky for the year.

The česnica has always been my favorite part of Christmas dinner. I have gotten the coin multiple times and truly believe that this coin has made my year five times better. I also have many Christmas memories associated with this tradition, from the first time I found the coin in my piece of bread to the time my aunt put multiple coins into the dough so everyone could have luck. Sadly, I didn’t get the coin this year, but I’m still optimistic about the year.

So even though 2020 has already been in session for eight days, it’s still not too late to set yourself up for a lucky year.

Recipe courtesy of the “Circle of Serbian Sisters” Cookbook

1 package dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. warm milk
1 cleaned silver coin
1/2 c. warm water
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. butter, softened
5 to 5 1/2 c. flour

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 c. water in a large bowl. Add eggs, salt, butter and water, beating well until thoroughly blended. Gradually add flour.

2. Knead dough until elastic and smooth (about 15-20 minutes). Place dough in oiled bowl and turn over to oil the top and bottom sides of dough. Cover with cloth and let rise until double in bulk approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours).

3. Punch down and knead again for a few minutes. Insert the silver coin into the dough. Shape the dough into a ball and place on a greased 12″ round pan or cookie sheet, then flatten the ball. Let rise for about 45-60 minutes. Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour until golden.