Discover Sweet Christmas Breads From Around the World
One of the best parts of Christmas is the aroma of baked goods fresh from the oven, ready to be shared with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. And we're not just talking about cookies — although we think you should definitely bake Christmas cookies. No, what we have in mind are Christmas breads from all over the world — specifically old-fashioned sweetened yeast breads — reflecting time-honored baking traditions handed down from generation to generation.
These Christmas yeast breads are often rich with butter, eggs, dried fruits, citrus, and nuts, and they can be fragrant with holiday spices like cinnamon and cardamom.
Here are several of our favorite Christmas breads from many different cultural traditions. Take a look and find something new to bake and share this year.
Italian Christmas Bread: Panettone
This rich, sweet egg bread, stuffed with dried fruit and candied citrus comes from Milan, Italy. You can bake it as a large loaf in a round, tall-sided pan or in paper panettone forms (Buy them: $14 for a pack of 10 at Amazon.com), and enjoy it as a breakfast bread or a dessert.
Try this recipe for Orange and Saffron Panettone.
More panettone recipes to try:
- Chef John's Panettone uses a sourdough starter and helps you out with a step-by-step video.
- Panettone II is made in a bread machine.
- Panettone I is ready in under 3 hours.
- Panettone Loaves uses the traditional method of rising 3 times to make a very airy loaf.
- Rich Panettone starts in a bread machine and finishes in the oven.
- Italian Christmas Bread with Eggnog Glaze is scented with anise seed and made in a bread machine.
Scandinavian Christmas Breads
Scandinavian breads from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland are often fragrant with cardamom and cinnamon, and braided before baking.
Try this recipe for Finnish Pulla.
More Scandinavian Christmas bread recipes to try:
- Finnish Nissua has warm and spicy cardamom baked right in.
- Norwegian Skolebrod are like cream puffs filled with pastry cream.
- Jule Kaka is studded with candied cherries, candied citron, and golden raisins.
- Swedish Saffron Buns are traditionally eaten on Saint Lucia's day (December 13).
- Swedish Tea Ring is stuffed with cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins.
- Danish Cinnamon Snails are scented with cardamom.
German Christmas Bread: Stollen
This famous German bread originated in the city of Dresden. Stollen is made from a very rich but not overly sweet dough, studded with candied fruits and nuts, and sometimes includes a ribbon of marzipan down the center. The finished loaf is sometimes brushed with clarified butter and rolled in confectioners' sugar. You can also decorate it with a glaze, as shown below.
Try this recipe: Nana's Christmas Stollen.
More German stollen recipes to try:
Eastern European Christmas Breads
Nuts and poppy seeds figure prominently in these favorite Christmas breads. They're often rolled or braided and baked in knots and wreaths.
Try this recipe for Old World Poppy Seed Roll.
More Eastern European Christmas breads to try:
- Walnut Poteca is a Slovenian nut roll.
- Olga's Potica is another version of a nut roll from Slovenia.
- Rum and Eggnog Kugelhopf has currants and cinnamon along with the rum and eggnog.
- Czech Christmas Hoska features a pinch of ground ginger and mace along with raisins, candied fruit peel, and almonds.
- Babovka (Poppyseed Rings) is filled with poppyseeds, but the recipe creator says you can use apricot filling, too.
- Hungarian Beigli is a rich egg dough rolled up with a walnut and raisin filling.
Mexican Christmas Breads
You'll find sweet Christmas bread traditions anywhere Christmas is celebrated. Pan Dulces are sweetened, enriched Mexican breads with a baked-on sugary topping. Another popular Mexican Christmas bread is called Rosca de Reyes, or "ring of the kings," celebrating the day the Three Kings visited the baby Jesus.
Try this recipe for Rosca de Reyes.
Other Holiday Yeast Breads
And last, but certainly not least, cinnamon rolls and other sweetened breads are among some of our most popular Christmas breakfast and brunch recipes.
Try this recipe for Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Buns.
More Christmas breads to try: