Christopsomo, or Christ's Bread, is considered a sacred tradition in many Greek Orthodox homes. The bread is often decorated with pieces of dough formed into representations of the family's life. Time doesn't include proofing time.
Mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water and 2 tablespoons of flour, stir until dissolved and set aside for 10 minutes, until it bubbles.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the salt with 2/3 of the flour.
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining warm water, and the wine.
Mix until a soft dough forms, cover with waxed paper and a damp towel, and set aside to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down and knead for several minutes until any air pockets are gone.
Sift in the remaining flour, add the oil, orange juice, brandy, and grated orange peel.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, raisins, walnuts, pine nuts, anise, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until blended, and add to the dough.
Knead well until the dough is firm and doesn't stick (about 10 minutes), cover, and allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
On a lightly buttered baking pan, shape the bread into two circular loaves, about 8 inches in diameter.
Cover with a dry cloth and a damp cloth over that, and place in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in size.
Using a floured knife, score a cross into the top of the loaves, and place one whole, unshelled walnut at the center. Brush the bread with milk and scatter with sesame seeds.
Place a pan with at least 1 inch of water in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450°F
Place the bread in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the pan with the water, reduce heat to 390F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven, brush lightly with water, and cool on a rack.
Decorate Your Christmas Bread: After the second kneading, pull a fistful of dough from each loaf. Pat the dough back into shape to rise. When risen, use the small pieces of dough to create designs. Make them into the shapes of your choice and place on top of the loaves. Continue with the recipe.