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Recipe: Braided Christmas Bread

Sweet Yeast Bread with a Cinnamon Twist and Candied Cherries

Nov 29, 2007 Robyn Harrison

Christmas bread is a tradition in many households. Follow these steps to create a decorative cinnamon braid that will easily become a Christmas tradition in your family.
This cinnamon braid makes a big beautiful centerpiece for a holiday brunch or Christmas Open House, or make two from this recipe to give as gifts this holiday season.


1/2 cup warm water
2 pkg active dry yeast (4 teaspoons total)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
7-71/2 cups flour
Cinnamon Filling

soft butter
soft brown sugar
raisins, chopped nuts, candied citron (optional)

Powdered sugar

Red and green candied cherries

Dissolve yeast in warm water; add milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and enough flour to make a stiff dough. The amount of flour will depend on the humidity in the air: if it is very dry, you will need to add the lesser amount of flour. If it is fairly humid, it will require more flour.
Mix well until dough handles easily.
Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Round up in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a place free of drafts. Rising time is dependent on air temperature where the dough is rising: the warmer it is, the faster it will rise. If it rises too quickly, the dough will taste yeasty and may yield an uneven product.
If making one large braid, divide dough in three equal parts. For two braids, divide in half, then each half into three parts.
Roll each third into a 9×13 rectangle, spread with soft butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins/nuts/citron, according to your taste.
Roll up each rectangle, starting on the long edge, into a long rope and pinch the edges to seal.
On a large cookie sheet, pinch the ends of the three ropes together and braid.
Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Make a powdered sugar icing by mixing 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar with 1-2 teaspoons milk. You will need to experiment to get the right consistency.
After bread has cooled completely, transfer it to a platter or, if you plan to give it away, to a sturdy piece of cardboard that has been covered with aluminum foil.
Drizzle the powdered sugar icing down the center of the braid, filling in the crevices and letting it run down the sides.
Snip green cherries into quarters and red cherries in half. Arrange them on the icing with a round red cherry half and 2 pieces of green cherry to look like holly berries and leaves on snow.
Bread can be covered with clear plastic wrap after icing has set.
For Individual Loaves:

Instead of creating a braid, cut each rope in half, turn under the ends and place in small, individual foil loaf pans.
With a sharp knife, make a shallow slash down the center of each loaf.
Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
When cooled, drizzle powdered sugar icing into the slash, decorate with cherries, and cover with plastic wrap. Tie up with Christmas ribbons for an extra dash of holiday cheer.
Serve this festive bread with scrambled eggs for breakfast Christmas morning and it is sure to become a Christmas tradition. For a not-so-sweet version of a Christmas braid, try this recipe for a Bread Wreath.

Copyright Robyn Harrison. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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