Česnica is a Serbian brioche made from flour and water and is served on Christmas Eve. Its name comes from the noun cest = share (beautiful, isn’t it?). The person who prepares this delicious dessert always hides a coin inside it. The coin brings luck to whomever finds it.
My grandmother used to prepare this treat each year. But our Česnica was different. It was filled with a rich walnut mixture and coated with a decadent honey glaze. My grandmother used to turn flour and water into an extremely elastic dough. Then she used to stretch the dough into several thin sheets just by using her hands. It was such a delight to watch her!
I carry on her tradition and I make this wonderful desert on each Serbian Christmas (old style calendar). Stretching the dough can be exhausting, so I use phyllo pastry. My folks say that my Česnica is as good as my grandmother’s. I say they’re wrong, but it’s a start.
Here you can find my updated recipe. This time I used homemade phyllo dough and I’ve explained the recipe in step-by-step images.
- 12 phyllo pastry sheets
- 400g walnuts, grinded
- 150g granulated sugar
- 80ml sunflower oil
- 100 ml milk
- zest from 1 lemon
- 6 Tbsp honey
- 2 coins
- Sterilize coins by boiling them in water for 30 minutes.
- Take a large baking tray (42×37 cm) and grease it with 1 tsp of oil.
- Mix walnuts, sugar, lemon zest and 3 Tbsp of milk in one large bowl. In another bowl mix the oil with the remaining milk.
- Place 3 sheets of dough in the tray and grease each one with 1 Tbsp of liquid (oil + milk) before putting the second one on top of it.
- Sprinkle 70g of walnut mixture over the 3rd greased sheet.
- Cover with the 4th greased sheet and sprinkle 70g of walnut mixture.
- Cover with the 5th greased sheet and sprinkle 70g of walnut mixture.
- Cover with the 6th greased sheet, sprinkle 140g of walnut mixture and place the coins (picture).
- Cover with the 7th greased sheet and sprinkle 70g of walnut mixture.
- Cover with the 8th greased sheet and sprinkle 70g of walnut mixture.
- Cover with the 9th greased sheet and sprinkle 70g of walnut mixture.
- Cover with the 10th, 11th and 12th greased sheet.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the surface of the pie .
- Bake in the preheated oven at 375°C/190°C (gas mark 5) for 30 minutes or until golden.
- Remove it from the oven and pour on top of it a mixture made form 6 Tbsp honey and 3 Tbsp milk. Cover it with a towel and let it cool.