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Wedding Recipes
October 19, 2010 11:29

Russian Karavai – the traditional round bread loaf - has come down to us from ancient pagan times. Karavai was a must at the Russian wedding feast, with numerous ritual rules observed during its preparation. Wedding loaves are decorated with complicated pastry designs and branches of arrow-wood, which is believed to have mystical properties and is a symbol of love.


7.5~8.5 glasses of flour,
20g dry yeast,
100g oil or melted butter,
0.5 glass milk or water (or both together),
10 eggs,
6~7 tbsp sugar,
2 tsp salt,
1 lemon rind and cinnamon (optional).


Dissolve yeast in 0.5 glass of warm water (or milk or milk and water mix) with 1 tsp sugar diluted in it.

Rub sugar with yolks (put aside one yolk for smearing). Pour in yeast liquid and stir. Put 7.5 glasses of flour into a big pan, form a hillock and make a deepening in the centre. Pour into it the yeast and yolk liquid, oil/melted butter, and frothed whites of eggs. Add salt and mix it all. Sprinkle half a glass of flour on the table, put the dough on it and knead it till it becomes smooth and non-sticky (for around 20-30 minutes). As a result you’ll get about 2.2 kg dough.

If you used liquid yeast, then leave the dough for some time after covering it with an overwrap to prevent from drying up. When the dough rises, press it down and let it rise again. Then you can start forming it.

If you used dry yeast, you can start forming the loaf right after kneading it.

Cut off 600 g dough. Make a ball from the remaining part and put it on the baking sheet laid with butter paper.

Smear the ball with water (better using a confectionery brush).

Take the remaining part of dough and sculpt ornaments (flowers, plaits, lattices, and leaves) and arrange them on the loaf. Since the loaf is wetted they will stick at once. Smear the ornaments and loaf surface to prevent it from drying.

Put away the loaf till it increases 3 times (in a warm place and with good yeast it will grow by the time when its ornamentation is over).

Grease the ready loaf with a yolk stirred with a spoon of water.

Heat the oven up to 200° and put the loaf on the baking sheet inside.

When the loaf top is slightly browned, carefully open the oven and cover the loaf with foil, bring the temperature down to 180° and to bake till ready (1 hour~1 hour 20 min).

During baking the loaf should not be disturbed or stirred. So don’t shake it or sweep open the oven door – it can make the loaf shrink.

Switch off the oven, slightly open the oven door and let the loaf cool down for 15 min without taking it out of the oven.

Take out the loaf, shift it on paper tissue (otherwise the bottom will get damp), and grease it with butter or sweetened water. Put paper napkins over the loaf and cover it with and a towel. Leave the loaf to "have a rest" overnight.

Tips and customs:

While preparing the wedding loaf one should observe certain rules (the complete ceremony of baking karavai is very sophisticated and has been almost forgotten).

Only a married woman should knead the dough and ornament the wedding loaf. It is very important that she personally must be happy in her marriage and have good children - it is believed that this woman shares her family happiness with the newly-married couple.

Before starting to make the dough she should wash her face and hands, put a kerchief on her head and put on the underwear cross. When kneading the dough she is to repeat prayers (for example, Our Father and To the Virgin Mary). It is a married man who is to put the round loaf into the stove, also saying a prayer, along with the people present at the ceremony.

Karavai is served after the church wedding ceremony and before seating at the table.

Parents of the groom (the mother is holding the loaf on an embroidered towel) congratulate the groom and the bride. The newlyweds thank parents and accept the loaf.

It has recently become customary to bite off or break off pieces from the loaf – the one who gets a bigger hunk is believed to become the head in the new family. The remaining loaf is cut (ceremony requires it to be a child who cuts the wedding loaf) and served to the guests.

Ancient Wedding Mushroom Pie

Stuffing: 20 mushrooms, 8-10 eggs, 200 g butter;
Sauce: 1 tbsp flour, 1.5 tbsp butter, salt and pepper to taste;
Pastry: 400 g flour, 400g butter, 1 egg.

Slice prepared mushrooms and fry them in butter on big fire, in a covered pan.

Separately prepare flour sauce by roasting flour with butter, and add salt and pepper. Dilute it with hot water and bring to boiling. Add a chunk of butter and stir the sauce on small fire till it gets thick. Add prepared mushrooms and boil a bit more. Finely chop hard-boiled eggs, add salt and make the mix rich with butter.

Prepare flaky pastry out of flour, butter and one egg, cool it down, and roll out in a layer of necessary size. Place it into a prepared baking pan or tray. In the middle of the layer put prepared stuffing of mushrooms and eggs in alternate layers. Then raise edges of the paste and to pinch them together in the middle of the pie so that the stuffing is enfolded inside. Bake the pie in the oven and then shift it on a dish. Make a cut in the middle of the pie and pour inside a little of hot strong meat broth filled with some butter.

Wedding Pretzel

Pastry for pretzel: 1 kg flour, 50g yeast, 2 glasses of milk, 70 g butter, 150 g sugar, 1 egg, 1tsp salt.
Paste for decoration: grated pastry made of flour, water and yeast by any recipe.
For greasing: egg yolks for pretzel, egg whites for pastry flowers and figurines.

Mix rather thick paste and leave it in a warm place for fermentation. After 1.5 to 2 hours, when the dough rises, press it down, then let it rise again and repeat pressing it down once.

Roll out the paste, shape into a roll, bend it as a horseshoe, and put on the baking sheet for proofing.

In the meantime prepare grated pastry for ornamentation.

Wedding pretzel is a festive dish, so its decoration must be grand and include special wedding symbols. Most common decorations are roses, trefoils, doves and swans – the symbols of devotion and fidelity. All these elements should be prepared in advance so that they can be attached onto the pretzel as soon as its proofing is over.

When the proofing is almost over, make small cuts with a sharp knife along the outer side of the pretzel. Slightly pull off the cut edges and roll them inside as little curls that make a lacy fringe after the proofing. When the pretzel is ready, stick the ornaments. Needless to say, one has to grease all the elements with egg yolks or whites. Bake the pretzel at temperature 240° to readiness.

The wedding pretzel is served to the bride and the groom on an embroidered towel.





Sources: (2)


Tags: Russian Cuisine     

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