Ukrainian Christmas Eve Bread share by Sr. M. Sacred Heart of the monastery in Alabama.
In many countries across Central and Eastern Eruope, it is customary to have a special meal on Christmas Eve. The meal is called the meal of the 12 Apostles, and it breaks the Advent fast, but not abstinence. The following recipe is similar to those used in these countries, this one particular to Ukraine. It is called Kolach, the kol being Ukrainian for circle.
Three rings honor the Trinity, as the circle symbolizes how God is without beginning or end. You can make 3 separate rings as above by cutting the dough in three separate parts.
The recipe below is for all three circles (or you can make one large one). Let rise and bake.
1 cup warm water, with 1 tsp sugar dissolved in it
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups of milk
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
8-9 cups sifted flour
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand. Melt the butter with milk in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, mix salt, sugar and 3 cups of flour together in a large bowl.When butter melts remove from heat, lightly beat in the eggs and add to milk mixture.
Pour into the flour mixture and add the yeast. Stir until smooth.
Cover dough and let it rise in a wam place. (this is a popular method in Eastern Europe)
After an hour it should be light and bubbly so add the remaining flour. Turn out and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. This will be somewhat stiffer than usual dough. Cover and let rise again in a warm place until double in bulk.
Punch down. Divide into three sections. Cut each section into 6 equal parts (do one ball at a time). roll each into a long roll about 20 inches. Entwine 2 together, starting at middle and working toward each end. repeat with other four. Then braid the 3 entwined rolls together, form into a circle and join the ends together. Place on a round tray or a round pan (grease well) that is big enough to hold it. You can grease a narrow can to put in the middle (an empty can) to keep the ring from closing up as it rises. you will have 3 rings.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, until almost double in bulk. When ready to bake mix one egg with one half eggshell of water (or 1 tbsp) and brush this carefully over the rings.
Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes and then lower the oven to 350 and back about 30 minutes or until browned and the bread is done.