One of the best parts of Christmas is the aroma of baked goods fresh from the oven, ready to be shared with family and friends as you get together to celebrate the holidays. And we're not just talking about cookies--although we think you should definitely bake Christmas cookies. No, what we have in mind are Christmas breads from all over the world, reflecting time-honored baking traditions handed down from generation to generation.
These Christmas breads are often rich with butter, eggs, dried fruits, citrus, and nuts. They can be fragrant with holiday spices like cinnamon and cardamom. And they owe their airy texture to the lifting power of yeast.
Here are several of our favorite Christmas breads from around the world. Which ones will you make this year?
Italian Christmas Bread: Panettone
This rich, sweet egg bread, stuffed w comes from Milan, Italy. You can bake it as a large loaf in a round, tall-sided pan or in paper panettone forms (as seen below), and enjoy it as a breakfast bread or a dessert. Slice leftover panettone to make decadent French toast or cube and bake it into comforting bread pudding.
More panettone recipes to try:
- Chef John's Panettone uses a sourdough starter and helps you out with a step-by-step video.
- Panettone II is made in a bread machine.
- Panettone I is ready in under 3 hours.
- Panettone Loaves uses the traditional method of rising 3 times to make a very airy loaf.
- Rich Panettone starts in a bread machine and finishes in the oven.
- Italian Christmas Bread with Eggnog Glaze is scented with anise seed and made in a bread machine.
Scandinavian Christmas Breads
Scandinavian breads from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland are often rich and sweet, fragrant with cardamom and cinnamon, and braided before baking.
More Scandinavian Christmas bread recipes to try:
- Finnish Nissua has warm and spicy cardamom baked right in.
- Norwegian Skolebrod are like cream puffs filled with pastry cream.
- Jule Kaka is studded with candied cherries, candied citron, and golden raisins.
- Swedish Saffron Buns are traditionally eaten on Saint Lucia's day (December 13).
- Swedish Tea Ring is stuffed with cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins.
- Danish Cinnamon Snails are scented with cardamom.
German Christmas Bread: Stollen
This famous German bread originated in the city of Dresden. Stollen is made from a very rich but not overly sweet dough, studded with candied fruits and nuts, and sometimes includes a ribbon of marzipan down the center. The finished loaf is sometimes brushed with clarified butter and rolled in confectioners' sugar.
More German stollen recipes to try:
- German Poppy Seed Stollen (Mohnstollen) has a rich filling of ground poppy seeds, raisins, honey, and rum.
- Old Fashioned Stollen is braided before baking.
- Nana's Christmas Stollen is a family recipe handed down through many generations.
Eastern European Christmas Breads
Try these special Polish, Czech, and Hungarian Christmas yeast bread recipes.
More Eastern European Christmas breads to try:
- Walnut Poteca is a Slovenian nut roll.
- Olga's Potica is another version of a nut roll from Slovenia.
- Rum and Eggnog Kugelhopf has currants and cinnamon along with the rum and eggnog.
- Czech Christmas Hoska features a pinch of ground ginger and mace along with raisins, candied fruit peel, and almonds.
- Babovka (Poppyseed Rings) is filled with poppyseeds, but the recipe creator says you can use apricot filling, too.
- Hungarian Beigli is a rich egg dough rolled up with a walnut and raisin filling.
Other Holiday Yeast Breads
And last, but certainly not least, cinnamon rolls and other sweet breads.
More international Christmas breads to try:
- Pan Dulces are Mexican sweet rolls baked with a sugary topping.
- English Saffron Bread fills your kitchen with the aroma of saffron and lemon.
- Sugarplum Bread is loaded with candied fruit, raisins, and pine nuts.
- Overnight Cinnamon Rolls I can rest in the fridge overnight and be popped into the oven the next morning.
Yeast Bread Baking Tips
Because most holiday breads are enriched with butter, eggs, nuts, and dried fruits, they will take far longer to rise than leaner doughs. Don't rush the process: they can take several hours to rise properly. To help things along a bit, set a pan of hot water in the bottom of your oven and place the loaves in the oven to rise. If you have a very low oven setting (no hotter than 100 degrees F), you can turn on the heat. Otherwise, refresh the hot water periodically to create a warm, steamy environment.
Let baked breads cool thoroughly before wrapping or slicing.
Unlike fruitcakes or quick breads, yeast breads tend to dry out quickly. They can be frozen for up to two months, well-wrapped in foil and plastic freezer bags. Thaw, still wrapped in foil, at room temperature for two to three hours.
To refresh breads, bake the foil-wrapped loaves in a moderate (350 degrees F) oven for ten to fifteen minutes.
Browse our entire collection of Christmas breads and Christmas baking recipes.
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