Greek Christmas Bread Recipe




 Butter/Margarine1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs) (1 Stick)
 Sugar1⁄3 Cup (5.33 tbs)
 Milk1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs)
 Anise seeds1⁄2 Teaspoon, crushed
 Salt1 Teaspoon
 Active dry yeast1 Tablespoon (1 Envelope)
 Warm water1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs) (Very Warm)
 All purpose flour3 1⁄2 Cup (56 tbs)
 Walnut filling1 Cup (16 tbs)
 Candied red cherries6
 Sesame seeds1 Teaspoon
 Candied pineapple slices1 Cup (16 tbs) (Yellow And Green)


1. Corpbine butter, sugar, milk, anise seed and salt in a small saucepan; heat the mixture slowly, stirring often, until the butter melts; then cool to lukewarm.
2. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in very warm water in a large bowl. ("Very warm" water should feel comfortably warm when dropped on wrist.) Stir until well blended and allow to stand 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to bubble.
3. Beat eggs in a cup until well blended; add all but 2 tablespoons of beaten egg to yeast; reserve remaining egg for' Step 6. Strain cooled butter mixture into bowl. Beat in enough flour with wooden spoon to make a soft dough; turn out onto a lightly floured .surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, using enough of remaining flour to keep dough from sticking.
4. Place dough in a buttered bowl; turn to bring buttered side up. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place, away from draft, 1 1/2 hours, or until double in bulk.
5. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead a few times; pat out to an 8-inch round and cut off a 1 1/2 -inch piece; reserve. Pat out remaining dough to a 12-inch round; spread with walnut filling; draw edges towards center to cover filling and press together to seal.
6. Place dough, seam-side down, on a lightly greased cookie sheet; pat with hands into an 8-inch round. Brush with part of the reserved beaten egg. Cut reserved dough in half; roll out one piece to a 10-inch rope and place down center of bread; roll remaining dough into an 8-inch rope and lay over first rope to form a cross; brush well with beaten egg. Make small cuts into ropes and insert red cherries.
7. Cover; let rise in a warm place, 45 minutes, or until almost double in bulk; brush with remaining beaten egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds.
8. Bake in moderate oven (350°) 45 minutes, or until bread gives a hollow sound when tapped. Cool on wire rack; garnish with slivers of candied yellow and green pineapple slices to add additional "jewels" to the cross.