Although not as common as its cousins, Easter Tsoureki and New Year’s Vasilopita, certain parts of Greece do celebrate the Christmas holiday with a special bread called “Christopsomo,” which translates literally to “Christ’s bread.”
The bread fares more predominantly in towns and villages in northern Greece, where intricate decorations are rolled in dough shapes and placed on top of the bread, including boats, flowers and trees.
In almost all cases, the bread is baked on Christmas Eve and eaten on Christmas Day.
See Greek celebrity chef Akis Petretzikis’ full recipe below.
- 550-600 ml water, at room temperature
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 120 g granulated sugar
- 50 g olive oil + 10 g extra for brushing bowl
- 1 kilo hard flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 g salt
- 30 g anise
- 100 g walnuts
- 125 g lukewarm water
- 20 g olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 250 g all-purpose soft flour
- 1 almond, whole
- 1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing
- 120 g honey
- 1 shot of cognac
For the dough
- In a mixer’s bowl, add a part of the water (550 g), the yeast and sugar.
- Mix with a hand whisk until the yeast dissolves completely and it becomes activated.
- Add the olive oil, flour and cinnamon. Beat with the hook attachment on medium speed for about 5-8 minutes, until all of the ingredients are completely combined start coming together to form a dough.
- Add the salt, anise and walnuts. Beat for 1 minute, just to combine. They are not added from the start so that they don’t get crushed inside the dough.
- If the dough is too thick, you can add the remaining water if needed.
- In a separate bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the dough.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until it doubles in size.
- Wash the mixer’s bowl and place back on stand.
- Add all of the ingredients: water, olive oil, flour and salt.
- Beat with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, until you create a smooth dough.
- Remove dough from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Set it aside to rest.
For the “Christopsomo”
- Punch down the dough lightly with your fingers and shape into a round loaf.
- Line a 30 cm baking pan with parchment paper and butter.
- Transfer dough into baking pan and let it spread out on its own.
- Remove plastic wrap from decorating dough and cut it into 6 equal sized pieces.
- Shape each piece into a long rope and then braid each 3 ropes into a braid. You should have 2 braids which should be as long as the circumference of the baking pan.
- Brush the dough in the pan with some beaten egg so that the 2 types of dough don’t stick together.
- Then place the 2 braids over it in the shape of a cross.
- Position the whole walnut in the center.
- Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise again for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180* C (350* F) Fan.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
- When the bread is almost ready, prepare the glaze by combining the honey and cognac thoroughly.When ready, remove from oven and immediately brush the glaze over the Christmas Bread.
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