“Christopsomo” in Greek means “Christ’s Bread” and this is why the bread is decorated with a cross. Christopsomo is considered very sacred bread in Greece and is usually prepared the day before Christmas and is served at the Christmas table.
According to the tradition, it has a cross made out of dough in the center and it has whole walnuts, almonds, raisin in it, that represent abundance. It also has other sacred shapes made out of dough which portray animals, members of a family, babies, grapes (a frequent symbol in Christianity and New Testament who represents the abudance), fruits, stacks of wheat (it represents a good harvest), flowers, crosses, a sun (represent life and strenght) leaves (the number of leaves represent the number of family members).
In some parts of Greece, where farming has always been a major occupation, Christopsomo is adorned with dough likenesses of specific farm tools, plows, ears of corn, sheaths of wheat, mules, horses, sheeps, shepherds and more. Everyone decorates it with the symbols that best represent it.
They are almost universally round, the circle a symbol of eternity, or, alternatively, cross-shaped.
**Merry Christmas to everyone**
For the dough:
- 550-600 ml water, at room temperature
- 18 g yeast
- 120 g granulated sugar
- 50 g olive oil, +extra 10g for brushing bowl
- 1 kilo hard flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 10 g salt
- 30 g anise
- 100 g walnuts
- 120 g water, lukewarm
- 20 g olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 1 walnut, whole
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten for brushing
For the glaze:
- 50 g honey
- 20 g brandy or 20gr water
For the dough
- In a mixer’s bowl add a part of the water (550 g), the yeast and sugar.
- Mix with a hand whisk until the yeast dissolves completely and it becomes activated.
- Add the olive oil, flour and cinnamon. Beat with the hook attachment on medium speed for about 5-8 minutes, until all of the ingredients are completely combined start coming together to form a dough.
- If the dough is too thick, you can add the remaining water if needed.
- In a separate bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the dough.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 1 hour, until it doubles in size.
Prepare the dough for the decoration of Christopsomo, so add the water, olive oil, flour and salt in the mixer’s bowl or you can simply use a bowl and your hands. Mix 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.
Add the salt, anise and walnuts. Beat for 1 minute, just to combine. They are not added from the start so that they don’t get crushed inside the dough.
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 white 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.
- When the bread is almost ready, prepare the glaze by combining the honey and cognac thoroughly. When ready, remove from oven and immediately brush the glaze over the Christmas Bread.
See step by step the photo gallery below