I am making a second batch of this incredible bread today. I was making some as gifts, and then John and I ended up eating too much - so now I have to make more. I chose this recipe because it's Christmas-y, and new, and I had all the ingredients... who knew it was going to be the most wonderful bread I've ever made. That's probably because of the buckets of butter and eggs in it, but that's what makes it Christmas bread, I suppose.
Traditionally, it's made with a cross on top, which I didn't do because I've been wanting to make gift bread this way for as long as I've had this bread cookbook. You tie the loaf with a brown paper ribbon before the second rise, and then replace it with a real ribbon after it's baked.
After looking online at other Christmas Bread recipes, I realized this version is maybe a little simpler than most. Here it is, with my changes in the loaf style:
Christopsomo (or Greek Christmas Bread)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded and cooled milk
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons crushed anise
1 tsp salt
Add yeast mixture and gradually add 6-7 cups unsifted flour.
Knead for 10 minutes on floured board
Let rise 2 hours or until double.
Punch down and divide into 6 small balls. Brush butter around outside, and tie each ball with a strip of brown paper (the same width as your ribbon - for small loaves like mine use a skinny ribbon) and place on greased baking sheets. Let rise 1 hour or until doubled. Bake 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Serve warm, or toasted with honey.