Most countries have their unique customs related to hospitality. For example, Ukraine has a welcoming tradition called “Bread and salt.” Shared with other countries and nations, including different Slavic, Nordic, and Middle Eastern cultures, it means offering a loaf of bread and salt as a sign of great respect to a person they meet.
In every Ukrainian house, bread and salt placed on a rushnyk (an embroidered ritual cloth) are a necessary attribute. Taking a rushnyk, kissing bread, and eating a salted piece of bread symbolized spiritual unity, harmony, and deep respect between ritual participants. The host invites guests to the table and says: “Please have our bread and salt.” After the meal, the guests thank the host for the bread and salt.
Mothers blessed the newlyweds and greeted them with korovai and salt on a rushnyk at the wedding. Korovai is a large, round, fluffy bread with dough decorations. It is usually baked for weddings or other celebrations and holidays, and sometimes it has a place for a salt holder right in the center.
On the first day of sowing, Ukrainian farmers brought bread and salt with them to ensure a good harvest. This tradition’s roots lie in the symbolic nature of salt and bread in Ukrainian culture.
Here are three delicious Ukrainian bread recipes for you to try.
- 520 g rye flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt,
- 1/8 tsp anise
- 60 g dairy butter / oil
- 4 chicken eggs
- 500 ml kefir
- 3 tbsp of honey (can be replaced with sugar)
- Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise, and salt.
- Add softened dairy butter or vegetable oil.
- Beat eggs in a separate bowl with a fork, and add kefir and honey.
- Quickly combine two masses, put the dough into a bread mold, and tap the mold on the table several times to distribute air.
- Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 180°C (356°F) for 45-55 minutes – the baking time depends on the mold and your oven.
- Use a skewer to check if the bread is baked – the dough should not stick to it.
Tea bread with herbs
- 250 ml brewed tea
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 10 g yeast
- 400 g wheat flour
- 50 g oatmeal
- dried rosemary – to taste
- dried sweet pepper – to taste
- ground black pepper – to taste
- Combine all listed ingredients and knead the dough for at least 20-30 minutes until it forms a uniform and sticky bun.
- Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then knead it again with your hands for 10-20 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Leave the dough to rise for 1-2 hours until it grows three times its size. Put it in a bowl, cover it with a towel, and leave it in a warm place. Alternatively, you can use the oven: heat it to 100°C (210°F) while you knead the dough and turn it off.
- Put the mold in the oven and leave it for 2 hours. During this time, the dough will rise.
- Bake the bread in an oven at 220°C (430°F) for 10 minutes, then reduce to 180°C (355°F) and bake it for another 30 minutes.
- Let the bread rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.
Lean pumpkin bread
- 500 g fresh pumpkin / 200 g premade pumpkin puree)
- 250 g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 200 ml vegetable oil
- 200 g of flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- salt – to taste
- Wash the pumpkin, core it, and cut the flesh into 2 cm cubes. Put the cubes into a pan, add 100 ml of water, and simmer the mass until soft over low heat with a covered lid for about 25 minutes.
- Drain the excess water, then finely mash the cooked pumpkin with a potato masher or blender.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy with a mixer, and gently mix in 200 g of pumpkin puree and vegetable oil.
- Combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and seeds, and quickly stir the mass into the sugar and egg mixture.
- Pour the batter into a parchment-lined baking dish and smooth it out. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top and bake the bread in a preheated oven for 75-90 minutes.
In conclusion, the tradition of bread and salt in Ukrainian culture has deep roots and significant meaning. It is a way of showing respect and hospitality to guests and a symbol of unity and harmony between people. The offering of bread and salt has a place in many important life events, such as weddings and harvesting.
By sharing three Ukrainian bread recipes, this article provides a glimpse into this cultural tradition and invites readers to experience the taste and richness of Ukrainian cuisine. By baking and sharing bread, we can connect and appreciate diverse Ukrainians’ customs and traditions.