Christmas Bread

Christmas Bread

Read more about this family heirloom recipe from our former food editor, Anna Theoktisto, in this issue of Taste of the South magazine. 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Christmas Bread
Recipe courtesy of Karen MacCollom Theoktisto
Yields: 2 loaves
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon whole milk, divided
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup warm water (105° to 110°)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 5⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • ¾ cup candied cherries, chopped
  • ⅔ cup raisins
  • ⅔ cup chopped candied citron
  • Whipping Cream Glaze (recipe follows)
  1. For bread: In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup milk over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, just until bubbles form around edges of pan. Remove from heat; add butter. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup warm water and yeast. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom. With mixer on low speed, add 2 eggs, milk mixture, and yeast mixture, beating until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment; beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes, adding remaining ⅓ cup flour as needed. Add cherries, raisins, and citron, beating to combine.
  4. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let stand in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, punch dough down, and divide in half. Divide each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Braid 3 ropes together, pinching ends to seal. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes.
  6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place loaves 3 inches apart on prepared pan. Spray loaves with cooking spray; loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 egg and remaining 1 teaspoon milk. Lightly brush over bread.
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes, covering with foil during last 5 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire racks. Drizzle with Whipping Cream Glaze.


Whipping Cream Glaze

In a medium bow, whisk together 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar½ cup whipping cream½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled loaves.


Sprinkle candied cherries with a little flour to keep them from getting sticky while chopping.


  1. I just made it today – I followed the recipe exactly as far as the preparation. It’s a wonderful recipe. I couldn’t find the candied citron so I added my own dried fruit and it’s amazing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.