One of the loveliest compliments I receive is when multiple members of the same family order a korovai from me. In this case, it was five years apart, and both korovayi were destined for weddings in Detroit, MI.
The mother of the groom wanted something quite elaborate and ornate, but not too big. We came up with a design consisting of two layers (8″ bottom, 6″ top), complete with wheat stalks cascading down the sides of the korovai, and grape clusters to symbolize joy associated with the creation of a family unit. There were also lots of different flowers: roses, sunflowers, periwinkle, mallows and cornflowers. Together, they symbolize constant renewal, life, youth, beauty, fertility and were once believed to protect against evil forces and misfortune.
This korovai is an example of a “baked on” design. Korovayi of this kind are especially laborious to make. There are so many tiny details in every decoration, including textured leaves, multiple flower shapes and layers, curly grape vines, chiselled wheat stalks, and very thin dough “ropes” tightly wrapped around floral wire to create delicate arches. Most of the decorations have to be made on the spot and placed directly on the korovai to make sure they “hug” the bread in all the right places before they are dried out. The korovai is then “baked” again at a relatively low temperature so as not to burn the tips of the decorations.
As we are heading into the 2020 wedding season, I predict that this type of korovai will increase in popularity. From my perspective, it sure sounds like an exciting wedding season ahead!