festive bread (bbd#15)

go directly to the recipe

Worldwide Blogger Bake Off summary: recipe for festive bread made with eggs, butter, milk and sugar; 2 loaves: 6 strand braid and “s” occhi di Santa Lucia; information about Bread Baking Day, YeastSpotting and Breadline Africa’s Worldwide Blogger Bake Off Challenge; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

:hohoho: Happy New Year! :hohoho:

Bread Baking Day (BBD) #15: Festive Bread

festive bread One of the things T loves to have for Christmas-tide breakfast is scrambled eggs and a sweet bread. So I made this bread especially for him. (I confess that I really like the bread too and am very pleased to have it for breakfast with hard boiled eggs.)

In past years, I’ve made sweet saffron buns for Christmas. But after tasting the recently made challah, we both agreed that while the saffron adds a lovely colour and flavour, it doesn’t add quite enough flavour to merit the expense of using the saffron. We decided to forego the saffron and make plain sweet bread (we used the saffron in our shrimp for New Year’s Eve dinner instead).

Saffron-less bread is delicious!! (Saffron shrimp is equally delicious!)

festive bread And I must say that I’m awfully pleased with myself for managing to do the six strand braid correctly – after reading, rereading, testing with string, reading, rereading the braiding section in Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer.

I was going to use the challah recipe I’d made before but then remembered it was a semi-wild challah and someone (heh… was that me???) murdered my wild-yeast starter. So that nixed that. And I was too lazy to look through the several recipes in Glezer’s book.

(Silly me!! I just realized I should have tried out the challah recipe in the lovely new pristine copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible that I was thrilled to receive for Christmas.)

Here is what I did to make the saffon-less bread:

Festive Bread (very similar to Challah)
based on a our recipe for Lucia buns

makes two loaves

  • 250gm water *
  • 100 gm butter (approx ½ c)
  • 2½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ⅓ c (45gm??) skim milk powder **
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 65gm sugar (approx ⅓ c)
  • 50 gm whole wheat flour ***(approx ⅓ c)
  • 450 gm unbleached all-purpose flour**(approx 3¼ c)
  • ½ tsp fine seasalt
  • unbleached all-purpose flour, for kneading (as little as possible)


  1. Bring water to a boil. Cut butter into pieces into a mixing bowl large enough for the dough to triple. Pour 200gm (approx ¾ c) of the boiling water overtop to melt the butter.
  2. In the measuring container, add cold water to the rest of the boiling water to bring it to lukewarm temperature (do baby bottle test on wrist). Put yeast into a small bowl along with a pinch of the sugar. Pour 50gms (approx ¼ c) lukewarm water overtop and stir to dissolve the yeast. Set aside….
  3. Stir milk powder, sugar and beaten egg into melted butter mixture. Make sure the temperature has dropped down to one cool enough that it won’t kill the yeast (do the baby bottle test on your wrist) and stir in the yeasted water.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flours and salt until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour onto a board. Turn the dough out onto the board.
  6. Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Yes, this step is important. It prepares the rising bowl AND allows the dough to rest a little.)
  7. Knead the dough until smooth and shiny (about 10 minutes). Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean. Add a little more flour if the dough seems sticky (but try not to add too much – the dough should be soft).
  8. Put the dough into the clean dry bowl; cover and let rise in a warm part of the kitchen to double (approx 40 minutes).
  9. After the dough has doubled, scatter a small amoount of flour onto the board. Turn the dough out onto the board. Fold it in half, pat it down and fold in half again and pat it down (or knead it a couple of times).
  10. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Cover one of the pieces and set it aside. Divide the other piece into 6 equal pieces and form into 6 ropes.
  11. Place the ropes in a fan shape and pinch the pointed end of the fan together. Braid. Tuck the ends of the ropes underneath and place the braid on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a plastic bag.
  12. Form the second piece of dough into one long rope. Shape it into the sideways “S” shape (occhi di Santa Lucia) Lucia shape sideways 'S'. Place the bread on another parchment covered cookie sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a plastic bag.
  13. Allow the shaped breads to rise in a warm part of the kitchen to double (20-40 minutes).
  14. Preheat oven to 400F. Just before putting the breads in the oven, brush the tops with cream or milk.
  15. Place bread trays on the upper shelf (to prevent burning on bottoms). Immediately turn the oven down to 375F and bake for 15 – 20 minutes til golden on top and hollow sounding on bottom.
  16. Remove bread from oven and allow to cool on a well ventilated rack. Wait til the bread is cool before opening it. It is still continuing to bake inside!****

*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.

Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!)

** The recipe calls for a cup of milk. We rarely have actual milk in the house (cream and yoghurt, yes; milk, no;) but always have powdered milk on hand. One cup of milk can be made by mixing ⅓ c milk powder into 1 cup of water. Please note that a Canadian cup holds 250ml.

*** The unbleached allpurpose flour is “NoName” (about 11.5% protein). The whole wheat flour is “Five Roses” (about 13% protein).

**** If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

braiding Deadlines!! Deadlines!!! I had planned on putting together a little photo essay of the six strand braiding but I’ll never get this post done in time if I try to add that. Stay tuned. It will appear soon.

But right now, I think I neeeeeed to head down to begin New Year’s Day celebrations. Hmmm, shall we start with Festive bread? :hohoho: :-) :hohoho:

Bread Baking Day #15
Bread Baking Day#15

Annarasa (Essence of Food) is hosting the fifteenth round of Bread Baking Day. She wrote:

[F]or BBD #15, bring your family and friends together and bake some festive bread for your holiday table. Then share the recipe you chose, why you chose it, and if you were able to make it a family event. The bread can be any shape and size, it may be dry or moist, spicy, savoury or sweet, filled with fruits, nuts, chocolate, almond paste, custard, with icing on the top, flavoured, coloured, its all your choice. Just one request: As this is a vegetarian blog, I would like to ask that all recipes be vegetarian (eggs are OK). Vegan, gluten-free, allergy-friendly recipes are welcome!


The deadline for submissions is January 1st, 2009.

For complete details on how to participate in BBD, please go to:

Please also read about previous BBDs and WBDs:

And as always, before completing your BBD post, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about

:hohoho: ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ :hohoho:

Yeastspotting - every Friday (wordle.net image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

:hohoho: ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ :hohoho:

Breadline Africa’s Worldwide Blogger Bake Off Challenge

Breadline Africa: Worldwide Blogger Bake Off Challenge

Breadline Africa (image © breadlineafrica.org) Breadline Africa is an internationally registered charity supporting ground level African charities that are working with communities to help them to become self-sustainable and “break the cycle of poverty in the lives of individuals and communities in Africa through sustainable, long-term solutions”.


This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf


edit 3 January 2009: I put together a post with instructions for 6 strand braiding.

edit 8 January 2009: Annarasa has posted the round up. There are so many wonderful entries that the roundup is in three parts. Take a look!

This entry was posted in baking, BBD, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, crossblogging, food & drink, posts with recipes on by .

* Thank you for visiting. Even though I may not get a chance to reply to you directly, I love seeing your responses and/or questions and read each and every one of them. Please note that your e-mail address will never be displayed on this site, nor will it ever be shared.

"Moderation" is in use. It may take a little time before your response appears. Responses containing unsolicited advertising will be deleted as spam (which means any subsequent attempts will be automatically relegated to the spam section and unlikely to be retrieved). For further information, please read the Discussion Policy.

6 responses to “festive bread (bbd#15)

  1. ejm Post author

    Thank you, Susan and Mary! We were pretty pleased with it. (And I was very pleased with myself for finally understanding 6 strand braiding!) But next time I’ll watch more carefully that it doesn’t over-rise. -Elizabeth

  2. Jeanne

    Wowee – six strands! That’s pretty impressive and the bread looks just heavenly. And glad to see one of the web’s bread baking queens on the Worldwide Blogger Bake-Off!

    Wow. I’m a bread baking queen, Jeanne?! Cool!!! (I love it when I fool people…. :-)) -Elizabeth

  3. miki

    Your braiding video and explanation is awesome, Elizabeth. I needed some hands on so I used macrame yarn to practice. Thank you. I can hardly wait to try this.

    I’m so glad to hear it has been useful to you, Miki! I hope the transition from macrame yarn to challah dough will be seamless and that your bread turns out just as you were hoping. -Elizabeth


Post a Response

You must fill in the "response", "name", and "email" fields. Please rest assured that your email address will never be posted or shared. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your discussion data is processed. Please note that the optional fields that point to your website URL and website name may be removed without notice. For more information about what can (or cannot) be included, please read the Discussion Policy.