There is no better bread to bake for the holiday than this delicious Greek Christmas Bread - Christopsomo, a slightly sweet, light, buttery bread, infused with cinnamon, orange and cloves, all the warm flavours of Xmas.
It has a lovely melt in your mouth texture, and is a great bread to make to have for Christmas breakfast or as a snack, whatever your religion.
Christopsomos in Greek literally means Christ's bread.
Like all Greek religious holidays, there are special foods that are made just for those occasions.
In fact there are many different breads made in Greece especially for religious holidays, such as Tsoureki for Easter.
Christmas bread is made the day before Christmas, and there is a lot of care and attention put into the baking of it, the best quality, fresh ingredients are bought especially to make it. It is then eaten traditionally, on Christmas Day.
The Christmas bread is usually round in shape, the top is decorated from the dough with a byzantine cross flavoured with aniseed, the ends of the cross swirling around golden walnuts.
Other variations with decorating the loaf, can be to use the dough to make a family crest or shapes representing the family's profession.
There are many, many variations to this recipe all over Greece. For example, the Christopsomo Sfakiano - is a particular recipe from Sfaka in Crete. They cover this bread with sesame seeds.
Another alternative christmas bread recipe is the Christopsomo Zakintho, which is from the island of Zakinthos. Their recipe includes dried fruit.
The method below is for a traditional bread, which has the flavourings added to the bread but not the cross, which remains "pure" and cleansed with the aniseed. If you are not too concerned with this, you can add the orange and spices along with the flour at stage 7, which makes it easier for these flavourings to be more evenly spread through the dough, doing away with steps 14 and 15.
See below for some photo's.
15g/1/2 oz fresh yeast OR 2 teaspoons dried yeast 180ml/ 6 fl oz/ 3/4 cup lukewarm milk 450g/ 1-lb / 4 cups white bread flour 2 eggs 75g / 3 oz / 6 tbspn caster sugar 2.5 ml / 1/2 tspn salt 75g / 3oz / 6 tbspn butter, softened
grated rind of 1/2 an orange 5ml / 1 tspn ground cinnamon 1.5ml / 1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of ground aniseed 8 walnut halves
1 egg white, beaten, for glazing
You can replace the ground aniseed with 1 teaspoon of ouzo.
In a large Mixing Bowl add the yeast and the milk and stir until the yeast has dissolved.
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