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Friday, May 30, 2008

Homemade Slovak Bread

My friend, Julia Kovacikova, shared with me a fun, authentic bread of her native country—Slovakia. Austin served his mission in the Czech Republic and was excited to report that it’s just as good as he remembers it. I was impressed by how much I liked it when Julia and I sat down to enjoy our spoils and savored half a loaf straight from the oven! Comparable in taste to a buttery rye bread, I can already tell this one will be requested regularly in our household. The outside shell is hard and crusty, and while the inside is soft and pliable, it is a bread that holds its form better than most. Since it is so hearty, it is fabulous for making killer, pile-it-all-on sandwiches!

4.5 cups flour
3 medium potatoes
4 tsp salt
2-3 tsp caraway seed
1 pinch ground fennel (opt)

In combination:

2 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp flour

Peel, boil or bake, and shred potatoes. In a small dish combine yeast, water, sugar and flour. Allow it to rise approximately 10-15 minutes. In a large bowl combine cold potatoes, flour, salt, caraway and fennel (opt). Add yeast mixture along with 2 cups lukewarm water. Knead briefly until dough can be formed into loaves. Divide dough into two portions and form round loaves on a floured cookie sheet. Let rise for about an hour.

Bake the first 10 minutes at 430 degrees, then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake another 35 minutes or until ready. Immediately after taking the bread out of the oven, sprinkle the loaves with water for a crunchy crust. If baking in a gas oven, sprinkle with water throughout bake time.

Comments from Julia—a note on Slovak cuisine:

***The traditional meal of Slovakia is Cheese Dumplings. We use a special kind of sheep's cheese which has the texture of cottage cheese. On the top we crumble bacon, grease and all. Milk is the beverage that goes with this yummy dish.

As for the bread, it's crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It has amazing flavor. It's really good to eat warm with butter and a glass of cold milk. It smells amazing. It's the closest in taste that I've had here in the States.***

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