Recipe: Braided Heart Bread | Pleteno Srce

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We are closing in on spring …  that special time of year, when weddings and baby showers sprinkle our calendars, and everything is awash in the promise of new love. In Slovenia, such times are marked with Pleteno Scre – an ornamental, braided, tender loaf of bread, shaped into a heart.

Pleteno Scre is an honored gift. The slightly sweet loaves are painstakingly decorated with edible tokens, like wedding rings and flowers (as I have done), or even astonishingly detailed birds, or paper thin leaves that seem to crackle under the slightest breeze.

This art form takes time to master, so I stuck with simple flowers, a wreath, and rings.

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The best part is that this is something you can do as a family. Little ones love to have a piece of dough to play with. Mashing and rolling, twisting and turning – it’s what they do best. Ava didn’t even want to make any shapes for the heart – she just wanted to play next to me, while I worked.

It was sweet. And so much fun.

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Makes one bedazzled heart

Ingredients:

For the heart:

5 cups cake flour
1 cup warm milk
2 tsp yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp rum
pinch salt

For the decorations:

1 cup cake flour
1 tsp egg white
water, to form soft dough

For the egg wash:

1 egg
1 Tbsp milk

Method:

For starters, set your kitchen up in an inspirational corner of Slovenia. This won’t be hard to do.

Perhaps a little waterside spot?

Lake Bled in Slovenia. Photo by Bas Lammers.

Lake Bled in Slovenia. Photo by Bas Lammers.

Or a mountain view?

Bohinj Mountains, Slovenia. Photo by Grega Nered.

Bohinj Mountains, Slovenia. Photo by Grega Nered.

Or a dream, somewhere in the middle?

Šmarjetna gora, view towards Škofja Loka, Slovenia. Photo by Mihael Grmek.

Šmarjetna gora, view towards Škofja Loka, Slovenia. Photo by Mihael Grmek.

The choice is yours.

Once you get settled, mix all the heart ingredients together. The dough should be soft, but not sticky.

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Let rise in a warm spot, covered until doubled in volume – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. slovenia.food.recipe.img_0282

Meanwhile, mix together the cake flour, egg white, and water until it forms a playdough-like consistency. This is for the decorations.

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Shape the decorations. Have fun!

You can make little loops with balls for flowers…

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A teeny, tiny braided wreath with wedding rings… (the disc is to put behind the wreath)… slovenia.food.recipe.img_0314

… or anything else your heart desires.

ha.

When the dough is puffed up, divide it into three pieces. slovenia.food.recipe.img_0298

You want two of them bigger than the last. I like to think of cutting a Mercedes logo.
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Divide the two larger pieces into three equal portions and braid…

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… and knit them together, into a heart. You can hide the loose ends underneath the heart.

Brush with egg wash. slovenia.food.recipe.img_0335

Next, braid the smaller piece and place it on top of the heart. Brush it with egg wash.

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Now for the fun – stick the decorations onto the heart. In order for them to pop, do not use egg wash on them (except for a little dab on the back to stick them to the heart). The only exception is the rings: they look nice with a slightly golden shine.  slovenia.food.recipe.img_0357

Let rise another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, the egg washed bits will turn deep golden, and the decorations will remain white.

slovenia.food.recipe.img_0474 Happy, happy..

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Joy, joy…

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Almost makes me want to get married again.

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Almost.

Enjoy the dream.

Triglav iz Bohinja, painted in oil by Anton Karinger (1829–1870).

Triglav iz Bohinja, painted in oil by Anton Karinger (1829–1870). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Slovenia.

Recipe adapted from Taste Slovenia, by Janez Bogataj.

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Comments

  1. AWESOME job! I am curious as to why the use of cake flour versus all purpose. I understand for the decorations you want less gluten so they don’t rise too much but the main dough? Anyway…great job! Can’t wait to give it a go!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks! I’ve never made bread with cake flour, but I think it’s to keep the dough tender. If this is kept in an airtight bag or similar, it stays quite soft and lovely for days.

      • The reason is the differences in European and American flours. European all-purpose flour has much lower protein/gluten content than its US counterpart. Even with AP you would get a lean, more French bread type of dough.
        I noticed the difference, when I tried to make simple German everyday rolls with American flour. The crumb was totally off, not at all fluffy, as it should be.
        The best flour, if you can get it, would be probably Italian 00.

  2. How gorgeous! Thank you for all your work.

  3. That looks wonderful!

  4. Collette Lemons says:

    That sounds soooo good on a cold day like today!!!

  5. I can’t even eat bread (I’m on a grain-free diet to heal an autoimmune condition), yet I love this post, because you created a work of art from that dough. How beautiful.

  6. What an amazing production! This is a masterpiece, really!

    gorgeous bread, I’ve never attempted anything so involved, you made it sound easy… I’m tempted!

  7. I don’t know how you could cut into it! It’s too beautiful!

  8. Sasha, when you say “Braid the two larger pieces…” it looks to me like there are three pieces in the picture, which I think would be needed for braiding. Or do you just coil two pieces?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Great question – each of the three pieces gets divided in three and braided. I went back and edited it for clarity… let me know if it’s still confusing.

  9. Ooooh – I get it now! The heart is put together with the two larger braids! Thanks, Sasha!

  10. This is gorgeous, like a piece of art. I will make it for Easter, oh yes, I will:)
    Great job, Sasha!

  11. Oh my! Your bread is a work of art!

  12. Sasha, that is amazing. You are so talented. I’ve been watching your website for about a year now. We cook your menu every Sunday. We are on Congos this weeknd. I can’t wait for Slovenia!

  13. Heading to the kitchen to get started on this, keeping my fingers crossed that the trees don’t snap from the ice/snow and cause us to relive the ice storms of 01-02? (The stove is electric, I hope there are no power interruptions!)

  14. There is nothing “simple” about your artistic work. Beautiful!

  15. I am diabetic but I still eat bread in moderation. This is just too beautiful to eat. I would probably shellac it and hang it
    on my wall or door. What a masterpeice! I rarely see braided breads with such precision and so artistic. This will also make a nice gift bread for the neighbors, people in rest homes, co workers, anyone. Who wouldn’t want this for a gift? Thanks for the recipe!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I love that idea! The girl, by the way, is my daughter. She LOVES this bread – it’s now a part of her heritage, too. :)

  16. By the way, the little girl posing with the bread is adorable and all your pictures posted here are so lovely. This shows an enourmous affection for Slovenia. Thanks for posting!

  17. Greetings! I’ve been reading your weblog for a while now and finally got the courage to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

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  2. [...] something as simple as rolling dough together – as with the braided heart bread from Slovenia – or shaping it into a pizza, and diving into such a homemade creation together is a [...]

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