Hoska from Home

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The best way to start my baking bohemian blog is with a recipe that comes from Bohemia – back when it was still its own country.  Bohemia’s history goes back more than 2000 years, although the first proclaimed King of Bohemia was crowned in 1085. Due to events during both World Wars, the country was divided and re-divided amongst neighbouring countries during the 1900s. Bohemia now comprises two thirds of the Czech Republic.

My family left Bohemia during the turmoil of WW1 and emigrated to Chicago.  As with many cultures, food played a vital role in family and community life. Many recipes have been handed down through the generations, along with the joy of cooking and sharing meals with family and friends.

 

So I am starting this blog with one of the favourite recipes from the family : hoska.  Hoska is a sweet yeast bread, best eaten warm from the oven with lashings of butter. You must have fresh yeast, and it works better with proper bakers flour.

All of the  Bohemian families I knew grew up eating hoska but my family’s hoska was the best ever. Wal, the very not-bohemian man about the house, will eat a whole loaf in one hit, which is always gratifying for the baker! The version below is from my great-grandmother, and is a dense but soft bread – very filling.

 Recipe

    • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
    • 2 t sugar
    • 1 packet dried yeast
    • 5 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar extra
    • 4 oz butter
    • 1 t vanilla
    • mace, nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • chopped dried apricots, dates or sultanas optional

Dissolve 2 t sugar in the lukewarm milk and stir in yeast.  Leave to one side. Mix dry ingredients.  Lightly beat eggs and vanilla. Pour egg mix, milk, softened butter into flour mixture and mix with wooden spoon til ingredient begin to stick together.  Add yeast mixture (it should have a foamy bubbly surface now) and dried fruit (if using) and mix til ingredients just combined.  Turn out onto floured surface to knead.  Knead gently til dough develops silky soft texture.  Do not overdo it or the dough will toughen.  Leave in bowl in warm spot (not in direct sunlight) covered for about an hour.  It should nearly double in size.

Lightly knead the dough again and divide into 3 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece into a strip so that you can make a braid out of the dough. Once braided, place in lined loaf pan.  Brush lightly with milk or egg yolk.  Bake in oven at 180 C for 15 minutes, then at 165 C  for a further 30-35 minutes.

Leave for at least 5 minutes to cool slightly in pan.  Enjoy with butter only or add jam or honey.  Yum!

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About baking bohemian

My name is Jen and I am the baking bohemian. My blog identity comes from the cultural background of my mother’s family, (Bohemian), and my mother’s more left wing lifestyle (bohemian). The big ‘B’ Bohemian refers to the rich cultural heritage of our family that emigrated from Bohemia when it was still its own country (it now comprises two thirds of the Czech Republic). Food featured prominently in the family and broader social life of that part of my family. No social interaction was without sustenance, and any celebration, large or small, was an invitation to cook up a storm. My own family emigrated from the United States to Australia when I was a child. For the most part we lived with our mother, and my dad eventually moved back to the US. The little ‘b’ bohemian relates to the semi-alternative lifestyle we led with our mother. I hesitate to refer to her as a hippy, for that conjures up so many misconceptions, but certainly she was on that side of the fence. She was probably more eccentric than radical at the end of the day, but she could really cook. We always set extra plates at the dinner table because inevitably people would visit at dinner time. I started cooking when I was about eight. Cookies. Obviously I was motivated by desire! I loved cooking, I loved that the kitchen was always, in every way, the heart of the house, so I was always part of anything else that was happening while I was cooking. I loved people loving my food. With all the different things that I have done in my life and am interested in, food has remained my most consistent and enduring passion.

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