If you haven’t tried Christopsomo (Greek Christmas bread) before, then you are certainly missing out! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful crust and unique flavour.. This is the most delicious Christopsomo recipe you will ever try!
“Christopsomo” in Greek means “Christ’s Bread” and this is why the bread is decorated with a cross. Christopsomo is considered very sacred in Greek households and is made with great care to ensure a blessed new year.
Greek Christmas bread is usually prepared the day before Christmas Eve and is served at the Christmas table. The householder cuts the pieces of the bread by hand, as it is said that no knife should be used. (To discover more Greek Christmas traditions to celebrate with your loved ones have a look at my article Greek Christmas traditions and customs.)
Christopsomo recipe (Greek Christmas bread) – Which spices and nuts to use
Greek Christmas bread owes its rich and distinctive flavour to the two aromatic spices used in this traditional Christopsomo recipe, mahleb and anise. Once put in the oven, the aromas of the spices permeates the house and brings back Christmas memories.
Mahleb (mahlepi) is a spice made from ground seeds of cherry. Anise seeds lend a licorice flavor to baked goods. (You can purchase anise and mahlepi at Greek grocers or online).
There are many variations to this traditional Greek Christopsomo recipe, so you can feel free to also add raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, mastic or cognac, according to your liking.
Christopsomo recipe – How to make the perfect Greek Christmas bread dough
Making your own Greek Christmas bread (Christopsomo) can be quite challenging, but experience has shown me, it’s all about having the right recipe. This is a no-fail detailed Christopsomo recipe (with all the preparation photos) for you to succeed on your first time!
Christopsomo dough is all about the rising. To get the perfect rise, you need to look after your yeast. This means that right temperature is very important. When preparing this Christopsomo recipe, make sure that the water is lukewarm before adding the yeast.
The water should not be hot, as it will kill the yeast, nor cold, as it will take forever for the Greek Christmas bread to rise. It should be same temperature as your finger so go ahead, stick one finger in the water and check! You should feel no difference in temperature. This will guarantee that your dough will rise quickly without killing the yeast.
In addition, the yeast needs some time to activate – allow about 10 minutes for the water-yeast mixture to settle before adding to the rest of the ingredients. The yeast is active when it starts to bubble. Finally make sure to add the salt at the end, so that it doesn’t “kill” the yeast.
To achieve the best texture in your Christopsomo, the chopped walnuts and anise should not added together with the rest of the ingredients. Adding them later makes sure that they don’t get crushed inside the dough and sink to the bottom.
Finally, give the dough for the Christopsomo ample time to rise and it will reward you with it’s fluffiness. For this Christopsomo recipe, make sure to use strong bread flour, which has elastic toughness and holds its shape well once baked.
To get that amazing glossy look, garnish your Greek Christmas bread with 1 tablespoon of honey dissolved in hot water and top with some sesame seeds! Merry Christmas!!
For more of my delicious Christmas recipes, take a look at my Christmas recipe collection here. Also if you’re a walnut fan, why not give these delicious recipes a try as well!
- Karidopita (Walnut cake) recipe
- Karidopita with chocolate recipe
- Skaltsounia recipe (walnut filled pastry parcels)
- Kariokes (walnut and chocolate ganache)
A traditional Greek Christmas Bread (Christopsomo) recipe! Discover all the secrets to make the tastiest traditional Christopsomo with this no fail recipe!
For the Christopsomo
- 540 g lukewarm water (19 oz.)
- 16 g dry yeast (0.6 oz.)
- 40 g granulated sugar (1.5 oz.)
- 1 kg strong white bread flour (35 oz.)
- 40 g honey (1.5 oz.)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp mahleb (ground)
- 1 tsp salt
- 20 g anise (1 oz.)
- 80 g walnuts, roughly chopped (3 oz.)
- 270 g all-purpose flour (9.5 oz.)
- 130 g water, at room temperature (4.5 oz.)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- a pinch of salt
- 1 walnut (whole)
- 1 egg and 2 tbsps water
- 2–3 handfuls sesame seeds
- To prepare this delicious Christopsomo recipe start by making the dough. In the mixer’s bowl add the water, yeast and sugar and whisk to dissolve.
- Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for about 10 minutes, until the yeast rises and starts bubbling. The water should not be hot, as it will kill the yeast, nor cold, as it will take forever for the Greek Christmas bread to rise. The water should be same temperature as your finger. Check the temperature of the water by sticking one finger in. You should feel no difference in temperature.
- Add the flour, honey, olive oil and mahleb. Using the dough hook mix at first at low speed, until the ingredients start to combine and then mix at medium speed for about 5-10 minutes, until the dough doesn’t stick on the sides of the bowl.
- Add the anise, walnuts and salt and beat for 1 more minute, until combined.
- Coat lightly the dough with olive oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in warm place for at least 1 hour, until it doubles it’s size.
- Now prepare the dough for the decoration of Christopsomo, add the water, olive oil, flour and salt in the mixer’s bowl. Mix using the dough hook, until the dough is smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes to rest.
- For the Christopsomo, deflate the dough lightly with your fingers and shape into a round loaf. Butter a round baking pan (28-30 cm) and line with parchment paper. Transfer the dough into the baking pan and spread lightly. Brush the top lightly with some beaten egg and water.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the decorating dough and cut it into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a long rope. Then form 2 braids. Place the 2 braids over the Christopsomo and shape a cross. Place the whole walnut in the center. Cover the dough with a towel and wait for the dough to rise for 1 hour. (see also the preparation photos below)
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F Fan and bake for 50 minutes, until the Christopsomo is nicely coloured and cooked through.
- Serving Size: 1 piece
- Calories: 496kcal
- Sugar: 6.5g
- Sodium: 397.9mg
- Fat: 9.2g
- Saturated Fat: 1.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 7.3g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 89.6g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 13.5g
- Cholesterol: 11.8mg
Keywords: Christopsomo recipe, Greek Christmas Bread