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Festive Bread (Koleda Leb)

Shared by: Baba Tala
Recipe origin: Capari, Macedonia

IMG_2271_blog_MAINHello and welcome to 2010!

By now many of you have pulled down the Christmas tree, reluctantly returned to work and successfully convinced yourself that no carbs and going to the gym every day for the next two weeks isn’t such a bad idea. For my family and I, the Christmas festivities continue as this week is “Bozik”, the traditional Orthodox Christmas celebrated on 7 January (it’s based on the old Julian calendar).

I have so many lovely memories of making bread with Mum for “Koleda” (Christmas Eve). We always made two types of bread, dolls for the girls and bicycles for the boys. The breads are given as gifts to all the children with lollies and other treats rather toys. I’m not sure how long the tradition has been around for, but there’s one thing for sure, I’m committed to keep it going.

Even if you don’t celebrate Koleda, making these with the kids over the holidays is a wonderful way to get them involved in the kitchen. Alternatively, you can bake as a loaf and eat while warm with a generous spread of butter and a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese.

Add the sponge (yeast mix) to the centre of the well and incorporate

Continue to mix until the dough begins to come together and pulls away from your fingers

Remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface

Making the bicycle
Bicycle process_blog_04

Making the village doll
Doll process_blog_05



Makes 2 dolls and 2 bikes (or 1 medium loaf)

Sponge (yeast mix)
1 level tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon dried yeast (or 1 x 7g sachet)
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) lukewarm water

2 1/2 cups (330g) plain white bread/pizza flour (‘00’) sifted, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (250ml) lukewarm water

1) For sponge, combine yeast, flour, sugar and lukewarm water in a small bowl, mix well until there are no lumps (it should have a slurry-like consistency), allow to stand in a warm spot for 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile sift flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
3) Once the sponge (yeast mix) has double in size add to the centre of the well with some of the lukewarm water. Begin to slowly incorporate with your fingers (or a fork). Gradually add all of the water and use your fingers to knead, while turning the bowl with your other hand. Continue to mix until the dough begins to come together and pulls away from your fingers (approx. 10 minutes). To finish, gently pull in the dough from the edge of the bowl to the centre to form a neat ball, flour the top, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to prove for 30-45 minutes (depending on the weather).
Note: The weather will also dictate how much flour and water is used, the dough should be quite wet but pull away from your fingers.
4) After 30 minutes gently knead the dough (still in the same bowl) for 2 minutes. Remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface, gently roll to coat with flour and divide into 4 large balls and 1 small ball (the size of a golf ball). Knead each ball for a further 2 minutes, dusting with flour as needed until most of the air is knocked out and the dough stops sticking to your hands.
5) To make a bicycle, roll out one of the balls into a long even shape (30-40cm in length). Coil each end in opposite directions until you have an even bike-like shape, i.e. roll left end upwards and right end downwards towards the centre.
6) To make a doll, roll out one of the balls into an oval shape and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Pinch in at the top to make the head, cut arms and legs, smooth out the edges and lengthen the arms and legs slightly. Roll out the small ball (the size of a golf ball) into a long thin strip, cut in half (use the remaining half when making the other doll) and wrap around the dolls head to mimic a scarf, hiding the edges under each arm. Use your fingers pinch eyes and a mouth.
7) Place onto an oiled and flour-dusted tray, dust top with flour and loosely cover with a clean towel, rest for a further 30 minutes. Preheat fan forced oven to 200ºc.
8) Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. After 10 minutes loosely cover with a sheet of foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 100ºc, remove foil and bake for final 10 minutes (30 minutes in total). Remove bread from oven and wrap in 2 large tea towels to keep warm.

Tip: Feel free to bake as round bread rolls or a medium loaf, the texture is similar to that of a dense European-style loaf.

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9 Comments  |   Add a comment

  1. Monique

    Absolutely beautiful~

  2. Alexx E

    This is an adorable idea! I will have to try this when I have an afternoon to spare.

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  4. Daniela

    I love koleda. These look beautiful.

  5. Michelle

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing! So cute!! I hope mine look as nice as yours.

  6. Aleks

    Hi Suzanna!
    This is a really great idea for making something more individual in portion size AND something totally quirky!

    I noticed that this came from Capari, my family came from Capari. Maybe your baba knows them; Draga, Zivko or Tane Necacovski.

    Great posts! x

  7. Village Feast

    Hi Aleks, thanks for your comment :)
    I’ll check with Baba, however, the name Tane Necakovski rings a bell with me personally – do you know if he lives in Newcastle??

  8. Tara

    I had never heard of this bread or Koleda before visiting your recipe. Loved it and my son loved his bicycle bread!

  9. Village Feast

    Gorgeous Tara – thanks for sharing and glad you’re little man loved his bicycle.

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