RECIPE: Czech Easter 'nooses' are easy to make once you get the hang of it

Learn how to make "Velikonoční jidášky" (Easter Judases), sweet yeast pastries with a rather dark meaning.

Marcus Bradshaw

Written by Marcus Bradshaw Published on 31.03.2021 08:07 (updated on 31.03.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Given the gentle and laid-back nature of Czech culture, it’s worth noting that several traditional Czech customs verge on the seemingly violent. St. Nicholas does his holiday rounds with a terrifying, child-abducting devil in tow, effigies of winter witches blaze atop bonfires to usher in spring, and on Easter Monday women across the country must endure a willow-stick whipping.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise then that this week brings another Czech tradition with vestiges of violence: a noose-shaped baked treat, known as an Easter Judas (Velikonoční jidáš), typically eaten on the Thursday of Holy Week.

Easter Judases come in different guises, ranging from region to region. They are made with a sweet yeasted dough that is baked in a variety of forms (the shape is supposed to invoke the rope with which Judas hanged himself after he betrayed Christ). The shape is largely up to you (coils, hooks, twists, or braids) so long as they resemble a rope. 

Tradition says that you can protect yourself from snake bites, bee stings, and acts of betrayal during the year ahead by consuming an Easter Judas (ideally before sunrise) on Maundy Thursday. The recipe below is easy to make, and the short proving times mean that you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night to make it.

Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 250ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 sachet dried yeast
  • 3 egg yolks
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 120g melted butter
  • Runny honey to glaze

Method

  • 1.Sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a bowl, add sugar, make a hole in the middle and pour the lukewarm milk into it.
  • 2.Pour the yeast into the liquid, add the yolks and the lemon zest. Finally, pour in the melted lukewarm butter and make a soft dough.
  • 3.Sprinkle the dough with flour, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place, it should double in volume after about 90 minutes.
  • 4.Separate the dough into balls, each weighing 50g. On a lightly floured surface, roll each into a strand that’s about a centimetre thick and 25cm long. Twist them into your desired shape.
  • 5.Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and leave to rise for another 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 160°C.
  • 6.Allow to cool and serve smeared with honey.
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