Keeping a holiday tradition alive with an old-fashioned bread

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2013 at 12:00 am

200 loaves of Hungarian Christmas bread will sweeten holidays

Photos by Tom Rivers – Hungarian Christmas bread includes old-fashioned bread dough, brown sugar and walnuts.

ALBION – Next to Santa Claus, Debbie Tokotch may be the most warmly greeted person in the Albion area during the holiday season.

Tokotch has made more than 200 loaves of Hungarian Christmas bread that are 12 to 15 inches long. She makes them all my hand, mixing together old-fashioned bread dough, brown sugar and walnuts.

She has been busy baking since mid-November. Today she was out delivering the bread, also known as Kolache.  She stopped by the Orleans Hub/Lake Country Pennysaver Office with two loaves and immediately made many new friends in our office.

“A lot of people don’t make the old-fashioned stuff anymore,” she said. “This is something different that people like.”


Tokotch works for Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. in Batavia as an assistant staff accountant. I used to cover WROTB for The Daily News in Batavia. I tried some of this bread at an WROTB board meeting last December. It’s very tasty. I asked Tokotch months ago to keep me in mind with her annual holiday baking.

She said she gets a lot of requests. She likes to make to the deliveries to older people in the community, who have a connection to the old-fashioned breads.

“I try to get them when they are unsuspecting,” Tokotch said. “Most of the people are very grateful.”

Tokotch’s grandmother is from Hungary. She moved to Buffalo and then to Orleans County. She treasured her family recipe and eventually relented and passed it on to her daughter-in-law, Tokotch’s mother.

“Grandma almost didn’t give it up,” Tokotch said laughing today.

Tokotch learned it from her mother. Baking the enormous quantity of bread and sharing the loaves has become a holiday tradition with a growing list.

“I started 10 years ago and it keeps getting bigger,” Tokotch said. “It’s a way to keep family history alive.”

When she retires from WROTB, Tokotch said she might start a bakery locally. That would be in about 10 years. Before joining WROTB in 1994, she worked in the shoe department for Ames.

“A lot of people remember me as Debbie Shoes because I was the person in the shoe department,” she said.