Baking for Christmas With your Bread Machine

From Christmas wreaths to Christmas Trees to a traditional Hungarian Christmas bread, you can do anything with your bread machine.

6 - Example of how wreath can be used with dip

Christmas is a traditional time for family get togethers and the feast on the table is often special and relevant to the season. It’s a time for sharing, feasting and fun and all of the recipes we’re going to cover are designed to be shared as finger foods that both adults and kids will love.

We’re going to start with a Christmas wreath. This is a very simple bread to make if you use your bread machine. The bread recipe is essentially a sweet Hawaiian bread recipe, but we’re going to circle the parts and pieces to make a wreath.

You can drop a dip into the center of the wreath and we’ll include some of those too. Our favorites include a spinach dip, a cheese dip and a jelly dip and we’ll give your recipes for all three.

We’re also going to explore a Hungarian tradition for a Christmas bread that is essentially a sweet pretzel bread. Here again it’s finger food that’s fun to eat and like all things at Christmas -really sweet. However, you can take a different approach and sprinkle with coarse sea-salt to deliver on the perceived promise of a Christmas pretzel.

Finally, we’re going to make a Christmas tree out of small, baked bread balls. We’ll stack them up and glaze them with a glaze made from powdered white sugar and then sprinkle them with red and green sprinkles. It’s great fun for the kids to reach in and eat the Christmas tree while most of us savor some coffee or tea and help ourselves to one of these Christmas treats.

So let’s get started with our traditional Christmas wreath and some dips which you can not only serve to your family, but will make you a hero at the company Christmas party.

 

Christmas Wreath Bread Recipe:

(Serves 15 to 25)

1 - Christmas wreath foundation 2 - cutting the dough into dough balls

3 - arranging the dough balls on the baking sheet 4 - Wreath ready for the oven

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cups milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cups of egg nog at (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps active dry yeast

GLAZE:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk whisked into egg

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Select Dough course and remove after kneading cycle. Dump dough onto a floured surface and form a long rope of dough about one inch in diameter and about 14 inches long. Make this into a loop and place on an oiled baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 375° F./ 190° C.
  2. Roll out the dough into inch thick ropes and cut them at an inch a piece and roll them into balls. Place them around the circle of dough and continue. When done, cover the dough on the baking sheet with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. When done, glaze the dough with the egg wash/milk combination and bake at 375°F./ 190°C for 15 to 25 minutes or until browned.
  4. Place on a serving platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve as is or add your dip to the center.

5 - finished wreath ready to be filled in center with dip 6 - Example of how wreath can be used with dip

 

Here are some dip suggestions:

 

Spinach Dip Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2/3 cup sliced water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable soup mix
  • 1 green onion, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

In a microwave bowl combine spinach and water and cook for 60 minutes until spinach is wilted Cool and squeeze dry and then combine rest of ingredients and stir. Chill for an hour or more and pour into the center of the wreath.   If you want more, double the recipe.

 

Cheese Dip Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese (that around a 1/3 of a cup packed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Add milk, salt and pepper to saucepan and slowly raise to a gentle boil. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts. Double or triple the recipe if you like..

 

Strawberry Jelly Dip Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pints (8 cups) (about 2 pounds) strawberries
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp low sugar or no sugar pectin (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Cut off any green spots or unripe areas of the strawberries. Over ripe strawberries are okay. Mash the fruit with a potato masher or in a food processor. In a bowl, mix in the sugar and pour the mixture into the bread pan. Select Jam or jelly setting and begin the cycle. When done, lift the lid of the machine and let cool for 30 minutes or remove carefully and let cool on a heat resistant trivet or surface. Pour or spoon carefully into jar or jars and let rest for 3 hours. Refrigerate and serve. Keeps in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

 

Hungarian Christmas Bread Recipe:

IMGP4143 IMGP4145

This is a unique take on a Christmas wreath. It actually resembles a complex pretzel given the way its parts and pieces are interwoven. It’s also a fun finger-food and is decorated a variety of ways.

We’re going to cover the basics of how to make and weave the pretzel wreath.

IMGP4146 IMGP4147

IMGP4148 IMGP4152

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 cups of water at (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

GLAZE:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk whisked into egg

TOPPING OPTIONS:

  • Coarse sugar granules
  • Coarse sea salt
  • red and green sprinkles

IMGP4167 IMGP4168

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bread pan in the order indicated and select the dough course. When the course is done, dump it out onto a floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin until roughly 1-inch to a 1/2-inch thick. Cut into strips and roll the strips into five 10″ lengths and one thicker length of about 24 inches.
  2. Circle the longer length on an oiled baking sheet and then begin the pretzel/braiding process. You want to create a loop attached to the larger circle and then integrate four additional loops to create a braided wreath. Here’s the progression:
  3. (PICTURES SHOWING LOOPING AND BRAIDING)
  4. Once you’ve finished the basic braiding process you should glaze with the egg and milk mixture that you have whisked together and you can sprinkle with coarse sugar or salt depending on your taste. You could also top with the red and green sprinkles if you like.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F./ 190°C and bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until browned. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then plate and serve.

IMGP4173

 

Christmas Tree Bread with Dried Cranberries Recipe:

1 - Christmas tree dough 3 - Christmas tree dough balls glazed with egg

This bread is a 3 dimensional Christmas tree that you build by stacking small, baked balls of sweet dough into a Christmas tree shape and then glaze with a powdered sugar icing. You can sprinkle it with green and red sprinkles if you like. It’s easy to make and fun to build the tree. In fact you can get the kids involved in its construction and it makes a fun centerpiece on a dessert table at Christmas time.

There are any number of bread recipes you can use to make this tree, but we’re going to use a variation on sweet Hawaiian bread with dried cranberries added. Once again, we’re going to use the dough cycle and then shape the dough into balls about an inch in diameter. They should rise to an inch and half or two and baked in the oven. Once they’re done, the fun begins.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 11/3 cups milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps active dry yeast
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries

GLAZE FOR BREAD BALLS:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk whisked into egg

GLAZE FOR TREE:

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • Water added until glaze is proper consistency
  • red and green sprinkles

4 - first layer of bread balls

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all of the dough ingredients to the bread pan and select the dough course. When the dough course is complete, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly roll out the dough to about an inch thick and cut into one inch cubes. Roll the cubes in your hands to make a dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly oil two baking sheets with butter or canola oil and place the dough balls on the sheets making sure they do not touch and have some room to rise a bit while baking. Lightly glaze each dough ball with the egg and milk mixture using a pastry brush.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375° F./ 190° C. and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the dough balls because they may brown quickly given their smaller size. When done, let them rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes until they cool down.
  4. While the bread balls are cooling add the powdered sugar to a bowl and then add a little bit of water at a time while whisking to create the sugar glaze. If you add too much water just add a little more powdered sugar. You want a thick glaze that will drizzle off the end of a spoon.
  5. BUILDING THE TREE: Find a circular plate and create a foundation layer of the bread balls. Continue to stack the balls in a circular pyramid shape. You can use the glaze as a glue if that helps. Keep stacking until you have a tree shape. Once done, take spoon and drizzle the sugar glaze over the sides of the tree. Sprinkle with Christmas color toppings if you like. You can be as creative as you want with your decorations but just make sure they’re edible.

6 - Christmas tree Bread

 

Steve Nubie

Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a Chef and has traveled across Asia and Europe studying language, culture and cuisine. He instructs culinary classes in the Culinary School at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and has written extensively on cuisine, cooking, diet and nutrition. He is a published author of 10 books including a cookbook and continues to write on subjects related to culinary trends.

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