5 Loaves


4-5 hours

total time


4 C scalded milk (180°-ish)

1 C butter

2/3 C sugar

2 t salt

1 1/2 C raisins

1 1/2 C pecans (or walnuts or almonds)

2 oz anise seed (about 1/2 C)

3 packages yeast (or 2T + 3/4t)

1 C warm water

2 beaten eggs

12 C flour


Warm the milk to scalding at medium heat. Do NOT let the milk boil.

While the milk is on the stove, put into a LARGE mixing bowl: butter, sugar, salt, raisins, nuts, and anise. Pour scalded milk over these ingredients.

Cool to warm. While this is cooling, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add yeasty water and both eggs to the mixing bowl, mix together.

Mix in about 8 C of the flour with a wooden spoon (or danish dough whisk) until stirring is too hard.

On a well-floured surface knead in the last 4-ish C of flour. Continue to knead for about 10 minutes. (You can call this 'arm day' if you want.)

Allow dough to rise to double, approximately 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Divide into 5 equal-ish portions, and grease 5 loaf pans.

Each of the portions will become one loaf of Hoska. Traditionally Hoska is a braided bread. I like to divide my loaf portion into 4 pieces. Roll each portion into a 'snake.' I braid 3 of them together, and squish and smash the braid into a loaf pan. The remaining snake curves on the top of the braid in an S or Z pattern.

Any raisins or nuts sticking out should be pushed into the dough (to avoid burning).

Let the loaves rise to double again, approximately 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 325'. Bake loaves for 45 minutes.

Allow bread to rest in pans for about 10 minutes, then allow to cool on racks. Once cool, the loaves can be well-wrapped and frozen.


* This recipe is adapted from Ruthie Helm Kailey's recipe. Grandma Ruthie's version made 10 loaves per batch, which worked well since she had double ovens and would sometimes bake ~300 loaves in December, giving them out instead of sending Christmas cards.

*In the Kailey family Hoska is a Christmas bread. Grandma Ruthie only baked from 12/1 to 12/31, and none of her family could eat any before Christmas Eve (because if her 5 boys started eating it no one would be gifted any... it would all be GONE!) The tradition has morphed into baking can begin on Black Friday, and continue until New Year's Day, and you can enjoy Hoska immediately - you no longer have to wait until Christmas Eve.

*Historically, Hoska is made for celebrations. Grandma Ruthie guarded her recipe very tightly, only sharing with family. Her sister Ibby, though, would share the recipe with anyone who asked.

*My favorite way to enjoy Hoska is toasted and buttered, sometimes with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. On my list to try this year (2023) is using Hoska to make bread pudding, and also using Hoska to make French toast / French toast casserole.

*Jamie’s 2023 variation: sub almonds for pecans, dried cranberries for raisins, and 2T lemon zest for 2oz anise. DELIGHTFUL! A bit more zest next time if available.

5 Loaves


4-5 hours

total time
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