Holiday Baking: Yeast Breads

Sample traditional Christmas breads from around the world.

Spread the holiday spirit when you share these delicious breads with your family:

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This famous German bread originated in the city of Dresden. Its unusual shape, with its characteristic indentation, was meant to represent the swaddled Christ Child.

Stollen is made from a very rich but not overly sweet dough that is studded with candied fruits and nuts and may include a ribbon of marzipan down the center. The finished loaf is brushed with clarified butter and rolled in confectioners’ sugar.

Christmas Stollen

Photo by Caitlin Milligan

Although its beginnings are the subject of many charming legends, the one undisputed fact about Panettone is that it comes from Milan, Italy. It is traditionally a large loaf baked in a round, tall-sided pan. It can be served as a breakfast bread or a dessert.

Panettone II

Photo by MRSJPVAN2

Scandinavian Breads
Scandinavian breads come in fragrant cardamom or saffron-scented braids and rolls.

Finnish Pulla

Photo by pomplemousse

Eastern European Breads
Try these Polish, Czech, and Hungarian yeast bread recipes.

Rum and Eggnog Kugelhopf

Photo by catherine.drew

Other Holiday Yeast Breads
And last, but certainly not least, cinnamon rolls and other sweet breads.

Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls

Photo by MildRed

Yeast Bread 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: it can take several hours to rise properly.
  • 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 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.
  • Refresh breads by baking the foil-wrapped loaves in a moderate (350 degrees F) oven for ten to fifteen minutes.

Christmas Quick Links

More Holiday Baking Articles
Candy your own citrus peels or pineapple chunks to enhance your baked goods.