The presentation and quality of the korovai, which was baked on a wedding’s eve, was traditionally used to foretell the newly-weds’ well-being. The cake used to be an inherent part of every wedding: it was divided into as many pieces as there were guests. The korovai baking tradition dates back to an old Slavic tradition which has survived mainly in the Podlasie region.
The korovai is a ring-shaped ceremonial cake decorated with baked figurines. The korovai is usually baked by a korovai maker, the most experienced housewife, who runs the entire ceremony. The most prominent part is its decoration, which is added once the cake has risen in a baking tin. Anna Szpura from Stara Kornica is known for her impeccable and award- winning korovais.
“You had to use white linen, which symbolises purity, and the green colour, which stands for life. And you used a white ribbon to girdle your korovai. In the centre it was decorated with swans that were separated by a rose,” says Anna Szpura. Other figurines such as animals or the newly-weds could be used instead of swans. Anna Szpura adheres to Stara Kornica’s local tradition in that she always uses swans to decorate her korovai. However, Anna’s recipe for korovai dough is her most closely guarded.