On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…… a traditional greek loaf, to go with all the fishes…
Australia is home to one of the largest populations of people of Greek ethnicity in the world, and this recipe for special Greek Christmas bread called Christopsomo (which literally translates to ‘bread of Christ’) can give your Christmas table something a little bit special.
The recipe is provided by Nancy Gaifyllia of About. As she informs us, this bread is special because it is made from only the purest and most expensive ingredients, meaning it's not going to be anything like your ordinary day-to-day bread.
Note the use of walnuts and pine nuts in the recipe, and make sure you check if anyone has a nut allergy before serving, as most Australians don't expect to find nuts in their bread.
Christopsomo (Greek Christmas Bread)
- 8 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of dry yeast
- 1 cup of warm water (105F, 40C)
- 1 cup of warm red wine
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- Grated peel of 2 oranges
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of raisins
- 1 1/2 cups of walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup of pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon of grated gum mastic or 1 tablespoon of crushed anise seed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping
- 2 whole walnuts in shells
- Sesame seeds
- Mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water and 2 tablespoons of flour, stir until dissolved and set aside for 10 minutes, until it bubbles.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the salt with 2/3 of the flour. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining warm water, and the wine. Mix until a soft dough forms, cover with waxed paper and a damp towel, and set aside to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
- Punch the dough down and knead for several minutes until any air pockets are gone. Sift in the remaining flour, add the oil, orange juice, brandy, and grated orange peel.
- In a small bowl, mix the sugar, raisins, walnuts, pine nuts, gum mastic or anise, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until blended, and add to the dough.
- Knead well until the dough is firm and doesn't stick (about 10 minutes), cover, and allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
- On a lightly buttered baking pan, shape the bread into two circular loaves, about 8 inches in diameter. Cover with a dry cloth and a damp cloth over that, and place in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in size.
- Using a floured knife, score a cross into the top of the loaves, and place one whole, unshelled walnut at the center. Brush the bread with milk and scatter with sesame seeds.
- Place a pan with at least 1 inch of water in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450F (230C). Place the bread in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the pan with the water, reduce heat to 390F (200C) and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven, brush lightly with water, and cool on a rack.
- Serve immediately.
If you loved this Christopsomo recipe, check out another 11 in our round-up of Classic Christmas recipes for 2019.