Braided Christmas bread

Braided Christmas bread

Braided Christmas bread was part of the Christmas menu since 14th century, when only bakers could bake it in their bread ovens. Christmas bread includes the highest quality flour, butter and lard, almonds, sometimes grated walnuts, raisins and dough must be thoroughly worked up, and leavening must not be rushed.

600 g fine flour
140 g sugar
250 ml full-fat milk
30 g fresh yeast
1 egg
130 g melted butter
50g raisins
25 g chopped almonds
1 teaspoon of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Ground cloves
1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel
1 egg
Tablespoon of water
50 g sliced almonds

1. First mix the yeast with 50 g of sugar into the liquid state, then add about 100 ml of warm milk and let the yeast rise.

2. In bowl mix eggs, 120 g of melted butter (the rest of the butter will be used to smear the Christmas bread after baking) and sugar. Add chopped almonds, raisins, salt, nutmeg, ground cloves and lemon peel. We mix it properly altogether. If we use a food processor, we use a kneading hook. Add flour, yeast and the rest of the warm milk alternately.
We will make a smooth and elastic leavened dough. Knead the dough so long that it does not stick to the walls. Add flour as needed if the dough is too thin; or milk, if on the contrary it is too hard. Let the elaborate dough rise for 1 hour.

3. After an hour, knead and let rise for another 1 hour.
After leavening, we divide the dough into 9 equal parts, from which we roll out rolls of the same length. We braid the Christmas bread, first of 4, then 3 and finally 2 parts. We will prepare a baking sheet, which we will line with baking paper. We always put individually baked braids directly on the baking tray (ie we don't transfer the whole braided Christmas bread cake from the work surface to the baking tray, but first we put a braid of four parts on the baking tray, then we seal the braid of three, finally the braid of two and seal it all together). So that the Braided Christmas bread would not „collapse“, we can pierce it with three skewers.
Cover the Braided Christmas bread with a cloth and leave it to rise on the plate for about 45 minutes.
4. Once we are ready to bake the Christmas bread, preheat the oven to 160 ° C. Add to the beaten egg 1 tablespoon of water, smear the braided Christmas bread and sprinkle it with almond slices. Bake for 45 minutes. After the Christmas bread is already baked, we sprinkle it with icing sugar.