Podkovy :: St. Stephen's Horseshoes

St. Stephen from Saints: Lives and Illuminations and Stephen's Feast

On December 26th we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christmas Martyr!  In honor of St. Stephen's patronage over horses, special breads filled with chopped nuts and sugar and shaped in the form of horseshoes are traditionally baked on this day in Poland and other Slavic countries.  The following recipe for Podkovy (St. Stephen's Horseshoes) is adapted from Cooking with the Saints.

Podkovy (St. Stephen's Horseshoes)

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 3 eggs, small
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind, grated
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 /2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • grated rind of 1 orange
  • grated rind of 1 lemon


Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm milk and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy.  Stir in the sour cream, yeast mixture, lemon juice and rind.

In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into small pieces.  Using either a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands, work the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Add the flour mixture to the moist ingredients and beat well.  You may need to add more flour, just enough to make a fairly soft and non-sticky dough, depending on the size of the eggs.

Knead dough briefly. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling prepare the filling.  Chop the nuts finely.  (We used walnuts, but hazelnuts or almonds would work great too!) Combine the brown sugar, egg, vanilla and rinds, then stir in the nuts.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 4x6 inch rectangles.

Brush the rectangles with some melted butte (I actually skipped this step) and spread a thin layer of filling in the middle.  Starting on the long side, roll each rectangle and form into the shape of a horseshoe.  (Note: As you can see in my pictures above, the filling did ooze out of some of the horseshoes in my first batch.  On the following batches, I made sure the dough was pinched together to prevent this from happening again.)

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 375˚F for about 15 minutes or until the horseshoes are nicely browned.

Dust with powdered sugar or glaze with a mixture of lemon juice and powdered sugar if desired.

St. Stephen, Pray for us! 

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