In the Czech kitchen: Bake a sweet Easter sourdough bread at home

Prague's Café Savoy reveals its tips, tricks, and secret recipe for baking a traditional Mazanec just in time for Easter.

Klára Kvitová

Written by Klára Kvitová Published on 31.03.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 31.05.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

With its spongy center, irresistible aroma of vanilla and citrus peel, and sweet flaky almond crust, Mazanec is an essential part of the Czech Easter table. Expert bakers from Prague restaurants Eska and Café Savoy have shared their secrets for transforming your home-baked mazanec into something truly special this year.

Sweet symbolism: A blessed bread

The baking of the mazanec marks the end of the Lenten fast before the most important holiday in the Christian calendar, Easter. It was traditionally baked on Holy Saturday ahead of Sunday mass. Women brought it to the church so that the priest could bestow upon them “svaté pomazání” (holy anointing), hence the name.

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Baker's tips

Mazanec is baked from yeast dough, which means in bakeries and home kitchens, the first step is a starter that's formed by the reaction of (fresh) yeast with lukewarm milk and sugar. Here are more bakers' tips for the perfect yeast dough and the softest, fluffiest Easter mazanec.

Mazanec from Café Savoy
Mazanec from Café Savoy
  • When making yeast bread, the proportion of fat is critical. Incorporate room-temperature butter towards the end of kneading.
  • The temperature of the dough and the temperature and humidity of the environment will help the dough to rise successfully as will as kneading the mazanec to keep its shape (see video).
  • Let the shaped mazanec rise under a tea towel until the dough is springy to the touch. If your finger leaves a dent when you poke it, it can go into the oven.
  • Cut cross-shaped slits into the dough with a sharp knife – the delicate cut has a religious meaning, but above all, it lets out steam.
  • A glaze of whole eggs or yolks with a little cream or milk, gives the bread a lighter golden color. A dusting of sugar crystals helps the loaf caramelize beautifully during baking.
  • At Café Savoy, the dough is flavored with vanilla and orange and lemon peel. Optional add-ins include saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, candied citrus, or marzipan.
  • Almonds can be ground right into the dough to give it a more pronounced flavor, in addition to the slices that are sprinkled on top before baking.
  • Raisins (soaked in rum) should be added to the dough last as kneading them could lead to tearing.
  • Freshly baked mazanec should cool down to room temperature before cutting. To avoid the crust separating from the core, cut the first slice only cut it has cooled down.

Easter Mazanec by Café Savoy


  • 33 g of fresh yeast
  • 100 ml of lukewarm milk
  • 50 g of sugar
  • 350 g plain flour
  • 30 g of vanilla sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 g of salt
  • Grated rind from 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 1 egg
  • 70 g of permitted butter
  • 75 g of raisins (soaked in rum overnight)
  • Egg and milk for glazing
  • 15 g of almond slices


  • 1.Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a bowl, combine the yeast, half the milk, a spoonful of sugar, and a little flour to form a sourdough starter.
  • 2.Sift the rest of the flour into a bowl and add the remaining sugar, vanilla sugar, vanilla bean pulp, and salt, as well as orange and lemon zest.
  • 3.Pour the starter into a large mixing bowl together with the remaining milk and egg, mix the dough, and then add the butter (a mixer with the bread attachment works best).
  • 4.When the dough comes together, sprinkle in the raisins that you soaked in rum overnight.
  • 5.Line a tray with baking paper. Roll out the well-risen dough a shape it into a domed mazanec loaf. (Some bakers do four braids.)
  • 6.Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel, and leave the mazanec to rise a second time.
  • 7.Once the dough has risen, cut slits into the surface. Next brush with the egg wash (combined with a splash of milk), and sprinkle with almond slices.
  • 8.Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Then do the toothpick test: If the dough doesn't stick to it, you're done.
  • 9.Serve the finished mazenec with butter or marmalade. It also makes a great French toast the next day!
A slice of Mazanec
A slice of Mazanec

In the Czech Kitchen is a weekly column written in cooperation with the culinary experts from Ambiente. Established in 1995, the Prague-based collective of pubs, restaurants, and fine-dining outlets has transformed the Czech culinary landscape and lent to the widespread awareness of quality food service and production in Czechia. Follow their socials or book your table at

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