The new year has just arrived and I am already preparing for the next wedding season. Among the 12 dishes they prepare for Svyat Vechir (Ukrainian Christmas Eve), virtual Christmas carols and Malanka celebrations, creating extra varenyky for Shchedryj Vechir (the eve of Theophany) – with my twins’ birthday party thrown in for good measure – I can hardly believe I’ve been able to squeeze for a while to make this korovai.

My discussion with the bride started some time ago, but with the pandemic ravaging the wedding arrangement, it was more of a beginning and ending conversation … until the bride decided to forgo all formal celebrations and to marry. Sometimes that’s enough do what you have to do and move on with life.

This korovai had to be eaten, so the bread had to be very fresh before I shipped it. Fresh bread is more difficult to decorate than it has to dry, so I had to decorate it as soon as it was cooked and cooled. Korovai bread is fluffy and soft, which means heavier decorations (such as a derevo zhyttya – a Tree of Life) doesn’t always hold up well: when you start poking around, it will get wobbly. For this reason, I decided to take pictures without first inserting the Tree of Life in the center to avoid pre-drilling a large hole. I took the photos of the Tree of Life separately to show the bride how it turned out.