Month: December 2016

This bread sums up Christmas to me. For as long as I can remember, we have made this bread in my family every year for Christmas morning. Not only that, but we made multiples, and my mother would always make me and my brothers take one over to our neighbors. Since we loved this bread so much, we hated having to give one away, and we were convinced as kids that our neighbors didn’t even like the bread and we were wasting a perfectly good chocolate bread. Such kind, generous children, weren’t we? If you try this bread, you will understand why three little kids hated giving one away. We weren’t little grinches, just little gluttons. 

The dough for this bread is simple enough to make. Just make sure you get a good bubbly yeast mixture before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Orange zest and nutmeg combine in the dough for a festive holiday flavor, but is subtle enough not to overpower the fillings. I chose to do a chocolate streusel filling, and that is always the favorite in my house, but there is also an apricot filling for the “grown ups” out there. If you have a particular flavor you love for bread fillings- I am sure this would be easy enough to adapt. 

The design for the bread looks impressive enough for a holiday brunch, but is simple to master. This “braid” is actually just two sides evenly cut, and then folded over the filling. 

This bread is a Christmas tradition in my family, and is one that will remain in our family for years to come, for good reason! Happy Holidays, and enjoy the recipe! 


Christmas Bread
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Buttery Rich Sweet Dough
  1. 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  2. 1 teaspoon sugar
  3. 1/2 cup very warm water
  4. 4 ¾ to 5 cups all purpose flour
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. Grated rind of 1 medium-size orange (about 1 tablespoon)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  9. 1 cup unsalted butter, cut up, cold
  10. 3/4 cup milk
  11. 4 egg yolks
Chocolate/Maple Pecan Filling
For the Maple-Pecan Nut Streusel
  1. 2/3 cup sugar
  2. 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  3. 1/3 cup butter, cut up
  4. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  5. 1 teaspoon maple extract
  6. 1/2 cup pecans
  7. Note: Combine 1 cup of the streusel with 1 ounce of chocolate for the amount of filling needed for one bread. This base streusel recipe makes enough for multiple breads.
  8. 1 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped
  1. 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  2. 2 ½ tablespoons warm milk
  3. 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  4. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Buttery Rich Sweet Dough
  1. Sprinkle yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar over very warm water in small bowl. Stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand until bubbly; about 10 minutes.
  2. Combine 4 ½ cups of the flour, sugar, salt, orange rind and nutmeg in a stand mixer. On low speed, add in butter until consistency of fine crumbs.
  3. Make a well in the center. Stir in milk, yolks, and yeast mixture. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make sticky dough, working dough well, scrape down side of bowl occasionally.
  4. Form dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap. Seal bowl in large plastic bag. Refrigerate dough for 3 hours; dough will be very firm but ready to work with.
  5. Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface.
  6. Divide dough into thirds. Work with one portion at a time and keep remaining two portions covered and refrigerated.
  7. Shape dough into an oval shape, about 3/8” thick and 14” long and 8” wide.
  8. Put bread filling in center 1/3, and cut even strips on either side to fold over the filling in a ‘braid.’ Fold up ends and side strips, then cover with towel and let rise for 1/2 hour.
  9. Bake at 375˚F for 20 to 30 minutes.
Chocolate/Maple Pecan Filling
  1. Combine sugar, the 2/3 cup flour, the butter, cinnamon and maple extract in electric blender or food processor until crumbly.
  2. Add pecans. Process until pecans are finely chopped.
  3. Transfer to bowl, refrigerate.
  4. When cool, crumble with fingers; sprinkle in the 1 tablespoon flour and blend.
  5. Add 1 ounce of chocolate per every 1 cup of streusel.
  1. Combine confectioner’s sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl. Beat until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary
  1. This dough recipe makes enough for three individual breads.
  2. Dough may be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks.
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