The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer turned bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, anything you can slather a lot of butter on. Today, he tells us about naturally leavened mazanec, a Czech sweet bread.
Many years ago I had the pleasure of traveling through Europe for work, with a multiweek stop in the Czech Republic. My hosts, knowing my appreciation for good food, took me to restaurants that catered to the locals and that were so small it felt like we were eating in their cousin’s kitchen. In these quaint eateries, I had some of the tastiest food of my entire trip. The highlight was probably eating a whole pork knuckle, but I also ordered plenty of dumplings and many a light beer. As I was traveling during the dead of winter, many spring and summer Czech specialties eluded me, including the Eastertime sweet bread called mazanec. This treat is not widely known here in the U.S., so I figured what better way to remember my trip through the beautiful Czech Republic than to fill the mazanec void and make it in my home kitchen—using my sourdough starter, of course.