Christmas Tree Bread

READY IN: 2hrs 20mins
SERVES: 14-16
YIELD: 3 loaves




  • Add saffron threads to warm water, let steep. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (add a pinch of sugar to proof yeast). Add eggs, evaporated milk, drained and crushed saffron threads, salt and sugar. Beat with mixer or whip until saffron is diffused. Gradually add 4 1/2 cups flour, beating until dough is smooth and elastic. Stir in butter until blended. Add 4 cups more flour, or enough to make a stiff dough. Sprinkle 1/2 c flour on board turn dough out, cover with bowl, and let rest 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic; add more flour sparingly if needed. Put dough into greased bowl, turn to grease top, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or longer. Divide into 3 equal portions. Makes 3 loaves.
  • For each tree, roll strands of dough approximately 3/4" in diameter; shape tree on greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise approximately 25 minutes in a warm place. Decorate with dried cherries and brush with beaten egg if desired. Bake at 375 for approximately 20-25 minutes. Watch closely as oven vary.
  • Branch tree: divide dough for one tree into 16 equal pieces; roll each piece into a 12" strand. Cut two 5" pieces from first strand to form top pair of branches; curl one end of each and bring cut ends together at center to form top of tree. Save excess dough. Arrange succeeding pairs of branches so each curled end extends 1/2" beyond last curl and just touches it. Make 8 or 9 pairs. Roll 8" long strand of dough to fit below last row of branches - leave ends uncurled. Roll saved dough into three thin strands about 20"; long; braid for trunk.
  • Spiral tree: divide dough into 22 parts. Roll each piece into a 6"strand. Turn 21 strands into snail coils; arrange coils into pyramid, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Curl remaining strand into “S” shape for trunk.
  • Scroll tree: roll pieces of douch into 1 each: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16" lengths, reserving trimmings. Curl both ends of each strand. Shape 6" strand into tree top with ends just slightly curled. Place next longest strand beneath first so that curled ends just touch first and extend approximately 3/4 beyond. Repeat with each succeeding strand until all are used. With reserved dough and trimmings, make “S” shaped trunk and place at base of tree. Also curl “snails” and center between branches.
  • For icing:.
  • mix together all ingredients. Add more cream if necessary to obtain spreading consistency. Drizzle thinly over warm bread.
  • Makes 2 cups, enough for 3 loaves depending on taste.