How to Make Czech Bread!

(Wo)man doesn’t subsist on bread alone but……the amount of bread sold and consumed in the Czech Republic is astounding and staggering.

This observation is not based in any statistical fact but merely my personal experience.  In other words- I. Eat. So. Much. Bread.

Why, you may ask?

1. It’s delicious

2. It’s so CHEAP!! I can (and have) bought a piece of bread for 2 korun. which is $0.051 in USD.

My amazing Czech buddy showed us how to make this delicious bread from scratch! Here’s her recipe, coupled with breathtaking photos taken by myself and my lovely roommate Nicole Lania.

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1. Ingredients: 

*      500 g flour

*      2 teaspoons of salt

*      1 teaspoon of sugar

*      270 ml water

*      ca. 20 g fresh yeast

*      60 g pork fat (it means 2 full spoons) (you can also use oil/butter)

 

 

2. Put flour into a bowl, add salt and mix.

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3. Add the yeast and sugar to warm water (must be warm, not hot!)

Wait until the yeast grows and appears on the surface. In the meantime you can melt the pork fat and add it to the dough.

 

4. Add the water with yeast into the bowl and knead the dough. Add small amounts of water/flour if the dough is too dry or too sticky.

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5. Kneaded dough should look like this. Cover it and wait approximately one hour and a half.

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6. If it looks like this, the dough is ready!

7. Divide the dough into multiple pieces.

8. Shape dough into desired bakery goods. i.e. Croissants, knot, braids, rohliks..etc. Be Creative! 

 

9. Now you need to cover the bakery goods. Whisk one egg with water/milk (around 2 tablespoons). You can also use seeds (i.e. sesame, poppy, flax) and/or grated cheese for typical Czech toppings.

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10. Brush the bread with the egg mixture and sprinkle with seeds or cheese. Leave for 15 minutes then can put the bread into the oven. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

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11. Let it cool down on the grill.

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12. Enjoy your homemade bread!

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8. Graffiti, graffiti everywhere

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“Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.”

— Banksy, Wall and Piece

Prague isn’t exactly like this UTOPIA but it’s pretty fucking cool.

There is graffiti everywhere you go. Whether on plain stone walls or pastel apartment buildings or baroque government buildings, graffiti…graffiti everywhere. In some parts of the city, graffiti is actually legal (!!!!).  Some works are inspiring and artfully done and others just look like gang signs or scribbles. Nevertheless,the street art here really captures the spirit of the youth culture in Prague and the idea of peaceful non-conformism.  I don’t consider myself an expert on Czech culture (yet….but soon…SOON) but apparently this cultural trait is something that the Czech people are proud of. After all, the public was able to overthrow and institute a new form of government with minimal violence [the VELVET Revolution]. I think it’s great to be in a city where you can see political statements or artistic expression everywhere you go. Below I’ve included some examples of street art that I found interesting, funny, beautiful or thought-provoking.

And in a discussion of street art in Prague, I obviously can’t leave out the Lennon wall! Amazing y’all!! Even tourists add their mark to this wall. Check out my other blog post for the history of the Lennon wall and more photos!

7. Lovers in Prague ~ Valentine’s Day Edition

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I spent Feb.  14, here in the lovely (and romantic) city of Prague with some of my favorite things… FOOD, CHOCOLATE, WINE and FLOWERS…also friends.

We had a potluck style dinner with everything from Czech guláš to baked ziti to blueberry cheesecake! And so…many… different kinds of wine! They’re in plastic bottles because we went to local vinotekas and got them by the liter. At the time I am writing this, exactly ONE WEEK since the event, we still have over 5 bottles of wine left… some unopened. We might have overestimated our ability to drink… a tad.

After breaking bread, drinking wine and being merry with one another, we went to clubs/bars and stayed out a little too late, but Y.O.L.O,that what happens when you’re young and reckless.

Highlight: I called my roommate from the inside of the club’s bathroom because I think I accidentally locked myself inside and have a blinding moment of panic where I think I will be stuck in this bathroom forever because no one can hear the sound of my screams over the sound of the music outside. #winning

6. To the Castle!

We went to see Prague Castle (Pražský hrad in Czech)-  the largest ancient castle in the world!!

The past home of Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, it now serves as the residence of the President of the Czech Republic. [Miloš Zeman in case you were wondering]

It took…forever. A long tram ride that went up a steep incline and then an interminable walk in frigid February temperatures with a very loquacious tour guide. NOT MY CUP OF TEA!!!

But, all was well because on the way we stopped to see incredible views of Prague! And I found a few other cute things, like this darling alleyway.

This architecture though [see below]. At the time it was a very new, avant-garde technique they implemented to make it seem like the designs were 3-dimensional from a distance. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of buildings left in this style because they were painted over when the trend changed.

How fickle we are!

It was so interesting to see buildings with the walls painted like this with intricate designs instead of just solid colors or plain stone.

SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES LATER………… -_-

FINALLY MADE IT!!!

There were some rather serious guards standing watch behind a little fence in blue and white striped houses. All the tourists were flocking around them and being really annoying. Apparently the little fences were erected because people kept harassing the guards and the guards violently retaliated (or something like that… sometimes I missed bits of the tour guide’s narration).  HAHAHA some people don’t understand personal boundaries. If you’re a tourist in this situation resist the temptation to be an asshole (pro tip). 

Here are some photos of the St. Vitus cathedral, a part of the Prague Castle complex.

Being the proper postmodernist, hip and rebellious youth that I am  - I was surprised by how much awe I felt at these ancient structures of religion, government and power. In many ways they represent oppression (at least to me) because they are part of an old regime that mercilessly stratified societies by class and rank and ethnicity and religion.  I agree with the Protestant Reformation (lol) in that this grandeur is excessive and unseemly especially in  state/religious institutions. That being said, they are stunning works of architecture and I was suitably impressed down to my existentialist core.  I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I am able to be here, in Prague, where a 30 min. tram ride takes you to a castle that’s been around since the 9th century.  Modernization is (debatably) nice, but I feel like many cities that I’ve been in have chosen utility over beauty in their designs. Skyscrapers and suburban brick houses all look the same after a while… Our sense of aesthetics has obviously changed over the years, but it’s wonderful that old buildings such as these still stand to serve as reminders of bygone ages.  They are awe-inspiring.

5. Kutna Hora: Human Bones & Stained Glass Windows

We went on an epic journey with our program to Kutna Hora- a town around one hour and a half away from our lovely city of Prague.

Pronounced: [koot- nah whore-ah]

Apparently a TON of silver was discovered here back in the day…and something akin to the California gold rush happened in the 13th century. It became a flourishing mining town. In fact, Kutna Hora used to be the 2nd most important city in Bohemia, after Prague [PRAGUE #1 !!!!!!].

First stop! Sedlec Ossuary- These are all made by human bones… WUT. There are an estimated 40,000 skeletons in this “Bone Church”. Pictured: Family Crest, chandelier and a skull. The chandelier contains at least one of every single human bone.  Lovely.  A ton of people chose to be buried here because it was a desirable burial ground but eventually space ran out. The dead were relocated to make way for the freshly dead, and this is what was done with their bones. This was kind of disgusting but pretty cool.

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The St. Barbara Cathedral is STUNNING inside and out. St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners, which makes sense because Kutna Hora is known for their silver mines. The architecture is gothic and it’s beautiful! It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Construction took over 500 years because of wars and money i$$ues. It’s still used for weddings and concerts!

I’ve never been all that into architecture but I was just astounded by this beauty of this building. The detail…and the intricacy. Huge arches and gargoyles … It’s incredible! How did they do this centuries ago???!!

[Click to make the pictures bigger!]

Below are pictures from a bridge: one of the patron saints that guard the bridge and picture of the surrounding landscape.

The town of Kutna Hora is so peaceful and lovely and still retains vestiges of its medieval heritage- with gothic architecture, statues of patron saints, cobblestone streets, and narrow alleyways.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a city that’s so peaceful and rich with history.

It was a nice change of pace from the busy, metropolitan center of Prague. I liked how quiet it was and the day was beautiful and sunny!!

4. BEHOLD!! The beauty of Prague through mine eyes

So I bought a non-iPhone camera, and it was a great investment because Prague is oh so photogenic.

I am nursing my fledgling dream of being a photographer by being a hardcore tourist [<-- listen to this song whilst scrolling through this post if doth willing]

Note: To see any of these photos in Full Size just 1. click on them. 2. while in the gallery, scroll down and select “view full size” under the “comment/reblog” buttons. I highly recommend this option so you can view them in their FULL GLORY AND SPLENDOR!!

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Lennon Wall: 

Lennon was a pacifist hero to many of the Prague youth during the Communist regime, and these young’uns put graffiti of his FACE as well as their complaints on the wall– which obviously pissed off the authorities. This led to a huge clash between the po lice & students and constant whitewashing/repainting of the wall. The original portrait of Lennon is obviously no more, but tourists are constantly adding new art to this wall… ranging from new pictures of Lennon, Beatles lyrics, messages of peace & love, and random shit [my personal favorite: "99 problems but a bitch ain't one". Ok, friend. Okay]

The colors are beautiful. I’ve frequently [and probably incorrectly] thought John Lennon was my soulmate so this was a lovely moment for me. Protest with Art; Peace & Love & The Beatles, everyone. ☮ LOVE IS THE ANSWER 

Views from a Bridge:

The Vlatva river [the longest river in the Czech Republic] is stunning- glittering in the sunlight, mysterious in the nighttime, from any bridge, under a pale blue sky, under a blank, white winter sky. There are boats serenely floating around in the day as well as a multitude of swans. I’ve never seen swans in real lyf3; I was so excited. If you go walk down next to the river there’s a little bank where they come eat food that tourists throw at them lol it’s just splendid.

Metronome:

So basically a giant statue of Stalin was erected during the Communist period but then it was torn down when Khrushchev took over the Soviet Union [& also bc no one likes Stalin]. This HUGE working metronome was erected in 1991 and is symbolic of the Czech Republic’s long struggle against Soviet oppression. We had to climb like 300 stairs to get to the top but the view was so worth it. ALL OF PRAGUE WAS AT MY FEET!!

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I don’t take my camera everywhere because I’m scared I’ll

1. break it

2. lose it

3. get it stolen

4. freeze it in the frigid winter air

But hopefully I’ll have more tourist photos soon!

3. Thoughts from my first week in Prague

1. ARRIVAL: My bags were overweight [by over 10 pounds, I impress myself], I missed one of my flights, I didn’t get my luggage for a day BUT WHATEVER I made it! Nashville –> Atlanta –> Paris–> Amsterdam –> Prague. My apartment is SO nice. And the view outside is ~on point~.

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2. BEER: I’ve never been a fan. But it’s really good here!! I’ve been drinking so much of it, this can’t be good for my  caloric intake. But you know what they say, a beer a day…………… Beer here is like $1/$2 USD, which is often cheaper than water at restaurants and pubs.Usually I can’t even sip on beer  (because it’s disgusting) but I can actually drink it here! To prove it, here’s a photo Hahahah. In Prague the most common beer is Pilsner Urquell and it’s crafted nearby in Pilsen, Czech Republic. Sweet.

3. Fun factoid: Vietnamese people are the 3rd largest minority group here. They immigrated here during the Communist era, and many of them still remain. Which accounts for all of the pho (!!!!!) restaurants and Vietnamese markets.

4. Blending in: To better blend in with the locals I have been practicing a straight dgaf face because apparently that’s what everyone looks like [no smiling allowed! in public places, that is]. Obviously I’m not Czech because I’m an Azn Gurl but maybe I can pass for a Vietnamese immigrant [see above factoid].

5. Clubbing: The other night we went to Lucerna music bar for 80s/90s night and they played Come on Eileen, Living on a Prayer, the Friend’s soundtrack and Ice, Ice, Baby [amongst other equally excellent selections] HAHAAHAHAHAHA A vast improvement from the terrible combination of ratchet/edm songs they play at LA clubs.  I still have no idea what Czech music sounds like… I’ve only heard American music at all the restaurants/bars I’ve gone to.

I’ve been so busy with orientation and exploring and eating and drinking but I finally took some photos with my camera [not iPhone] yesterday which I will share in my next post ~~ We start Intensive Czech classes tomorrow! Having at least a basic understanding of the Czech language will help me in my quest to pass as a Vietnamese Czech citizen. so wish me luck BYE