Christmas Bread Recipe (from Food Filled Life)


Christmas ParadeChristmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

No holiday season would be complete unless we had food, don't you think? I agree. So today we have a special treat for you! My friend Jillian from Food Filled Life is here to share one of her family's traditional recipes. I just know you will love it!

Barnes Family Christmas Bread

Dominic grew up with food as traditions, and traditional food. My wonderful Mother In Law, Madge, has been eating this Christmas bread recipe since she was a little girl. Her mother Marian always made it the day before Christmas, and while the the whole family was opening presents on Christmas morning, they were happily eating buttered toasted slices of Christmas bread.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

Madge loved this tradition so much, she carried it into adulthood, and like her mom, every year she made Christmas bread for her family the day before Christmas. Their family has a present opening tradition as well. They have always opened their stockings first. They then take a break, and eat Christmas bread. Then they move onto the presents under the tree, always taking turns, and opened presents one at a time. The whole process can traditionally last for an hour or two, and they snack on Christmas bread the whole time, it is marvelous.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

The original recipe, Swedish Bread is from the Boston Cooking School Cookbook(now known as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook), By Fannie Merritt Farmer. You can make this bread in a loaf pan, like Madge makes, or braid it like we have done here. The recipe does not call for citron, but Madge's Mother, Marian Barnes always made it with Citron.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

Madge used to make both loaves with citron, but when Dominic and his siblings were little, they told her they did not like the candied fruit. The next year, she started making one loaf with citron and one without.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

Madge and I were talking and we think this recipe originated from Mimi (Molly Baker) Barnes, My mother in Laws, Grandmother, because she was from Boston, and was a huge fan of Fannie Farmer. We think that she married into this recipe.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

While we were making this recipe, Madge shared a funny story about her grandmother.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

Mimi was a very prim and proper woman and was always a lady, whether she was at a formal dinner or camping. She was at a formal dinner one evening, and was discussing cookbooks with a small group at the table. She was in the middle of a comment when there was a pause in the table conversation. The pause was so prominent and the room was so quiet, that everyone heard her exclaim, "it's always good to have a fannie to fall back on." Being from the Victorian Era, she was mortified, and this story has been told throughout the generations, followed by much loving laughter.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie

I hope you make and share this Christmas bread for your family and friends, and your home is filled with love and laughter the whole season and beyond.

Christmas Bread Recipe via Cottage Magpie


1/2 cup melted butter 2/3 cup sugar 1 tsp sea salt 2 1/4 cups hot milk 1 scant Tbsp active dry yeast 1/4 cup warm water 1 egg well beaten 1 tsp almond extract 7 cups unbleached all purpose flour Egg Wash 1 egg yolk 1 tsp cold water

Making the Dough

  1. Stir yeast into warm water and let sit until foamy
  2. In stand mixer, mix the butter, sugar, salt and hot milk
  3. Mix 1 cup of flour into hot mixture (the addition of the flour cools your mixture down)
  4. Make sure the flour mixture is luke warm to touch before adding yeast
  5. Add foamy yeast mixture to stand mixe and mix well
  6. Add beaten egg and almond extrat and mix well
  7. Add 3 more cups of flour (one cup at a time, being sure to mix in completely, and vigorously before adding more flour)
  8. Add 3 more cups of flour (one cup at a time, being sure to mix in completely, and vigorously before adding more flour)
  9. Turn out on a lightly floured board, and knead for a minute or two
  10. Let dough rest for ten minutes
  11. Add more flour if dough is sticky
  12. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic
  13. Place dough in buttered bowl
  14. Cover bowl with dry cloth
  15. Let rise in warm place until double in size
  16. Punch down
  17. Knead for a minute or two (If you would like to add citron, now is the time to knead it in)
  18. Shape into two balls

For Braids

  1. Divide balls into three balls each (six equal pieces)
  2. Shape each ball into a long rope
  3. Pinch to attach dough ropes together on one end
  4. Braid dough ropes
  5. Pinch to attach the dough ropes at the end of braid
  6. Cover with dry cloth and let double in size


  1. Place in 350 degree F. oven
  2. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until golden, and toothpick clean
  3. Carefully place braids onto wire racks to cool
  4. For Loaves
  5. Shape both balls into tight ovals and place in buttered loaf pans
  6. Cover with dry cloth and let double in size once again
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Bake bread for 40-50 minutes
  9. Carefully remove from pans to wire racks to cool

Enjoy this delicate, lovely bread lightly toasted with butter

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Hi! My name is Jillian. I am a food lover who grew up on TV dinners and eating out at restaurants. I always liked gathering in the kitchen, while others were cooking. I am married to a wonderful man who is ironically a formerly trained chef. We have two loving, wonderful, imaginative, high spirited girls who also love to eat and enjoy tasty food. About four years ago, I started cooking food that was either inedible or barely edible. I was extremely frustrated and just kept practicing. Just in the last couple years, I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the kitchen, as the cook. I love creating daily beautiful, healthy, flavorful meals for my family and friends. I am blessed to live in Oregon, and to have amazingly fresh, organic produce available most of the year. I still struggle at times, with barely edible creations, but I get back in the kitchen and try it again. I am now truly, thankfully living a food filled life.

For more stories and delicious recipes, you can find Jillian at her blog, Food Filled Life.

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This post is part of my Christmas Parade series of Christmas blog posts for 2012. To see the entire post schedule and all the linky parties and other fun, check out the Christmas Parade Welcome post.