This bread is one of the few traditions we have on Christmas morning aside from surprising the kids with a bunch of stuff they don’t need.
It started with my mom and I’ve carried it on for 20+ years. I sometimes think of just making something else, but it’s only once per year, so why not? It’s pretty and pretty easy to make. If you’re like me and want to eat healthy, choose the best ingredients as suggested below.
Mom, if you’re reading this, it’s time to get out your ingredients and get going!
___ ____ ____ ___ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
The original recipe(s) for this bread contain white flour, regular sugar of course, but we’re stepping it up to be wholesome for your morning breakfast.
Please feel free to share this recipe and make it a tradition of you own.
Note that I’ve made another version listed in Cooking Light magazine and that one was fantastic too! That one includes lemon zest and brushing the bread with beaten egg whites instead of butter. The pictures above and below DO have the nice browning affect from the egg white. I actually brushed the butter only in the creases this time.
You may wish to brown yours a little more and do an egg white wash on the bread before baking. Also, egg whites are nice and sticky for the sugar if you choose not to do the frosting option.
Cardamom Christmas Braid
- 2-1/4 cups organic whole- wheat ivory flour or whole wheat pastry flour ( I use Bob Red Mills)
- 2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (optional, but good when using whole grain flour–for better texture)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm organic milk or almond milk (105-115 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1 egg well- beaten
- 1/4 cup organic pasture-fed butter, melted
Frosting (optional): OR naturally colored sugar: red or green*
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- Sift flour. salt and cardamom: set aside.
- Sprinkle yeast over milk in large saucepan; stir until dissolved.
- Stir in granulated sugar, egg and flour mixture; mix well.
- Add 2 tablespoons butter; mix thoroughly
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 8 minutes or until smooth
- Turn into lightly greased bowl.
- Cover with damp towel; let rise in warm place (about 85 degrees) free from drafts until double in bulk-about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough. Cut into 3 equal parts. With hands, roll each part into a 24-inch ling rope.
- On lightly greased cookie sheet, braid the three ropes. Join ends to form a circle. Brush with the rest of the butter. Sprinkle with sugar if using. Cover with damp towel; let rise until the braid is double in bulk about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake braid about 12 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on wire rack. Makes 1 braid 12 inches in diameter.
- Frost, if desired. Sprinkle with almonds. Allow frosting to dry before putting into a container, if you’re planning to freeze it like I do.
Notes: I often double the recipe and also make two braids out of 1 recipe as shown in photos. You can make small braided wreaths too. I like these for gift-giving.
Make your own colored sugar. I made pink with pomegranate juice and organic cane sugar. Lay out to dry on a pan in a warm toaster oven–on a very low temp. You could also use a food dehydrator. Crumble over Christmas cookies or bread such as this one, before baking.