Wow, who knew Czech mystery pastries could generate so much enthusiasm?!
Thanks to all of you who participated and we're happy to report that we have a winner: Fred Wilson. Yep, that's right: these pastries are called jídaše and the term quite literally means "Judases." The shape is based on that of a noose and it's meant to symbolize Judas Iscariot's fate. Grim, huh?
Michelle was just innocently researching Czech Easter pastries a few weeks ago when she came upon a recipe for jídaše and the lore behind them. She grew up in a seriously Czech family with a typically bleak Eastern European outlook on life and even she was shocked. Not exactly the kind of bunnies and eggs vibe that people over here have come to associate with Easter.
They're obviously supposed to impart an important lesson, but, for the life of me, I'm not sure how because they taste so good--perfect texture, subtle flavors: an ideal Easter sweet bread. Apparently you're supposed to have them with honey, but when I tasted my first Easter Noose I immediately thought of a boiled egg. So we had both.
fig. a: with egg
500 g flour
80 g icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
100 g butter
20 g fresh yeast
2 egg yolks
250 ml milk
In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and yeast and rub them into the flour until the butter is almost totally blended in. Add the yolks and milk and stir into a dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and begin picking the dough up, slamming it down on the counter and pulling the sides up on top of the dough. Seriously. Try it, it's fun! Repeat until it forms a nice smooth dough. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Take pieces of the dough and roll them into ropes about 12" long. Braid into noose shapes. Let rise, covered with plastic until doubled, about 45 min. Brush with egg wash and bake at 375°F until well-browned, about 20-25 min. Let cool and serve with a boiled egg, or honey, or both.
Makes about 18 jídaše.
fig. b: with honey
Oh, and as for our winner: please send us an email (ajkinik AT gmail DOT com) with your address and we'll send you your prize. And if your name is Lauren and you were blessed with a stereotypically dour Slavic grandmother, send us an email too and we'll send you a runner-up prize.