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The Hirshon Greek Spiced Christmas Bread – Χριστόψωμο


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 kilos all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast (18 grams)
  • 1 cup lukewarm warm water (105F, 40C)
  • 1 cup of warm red wine
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of freshly-squeezed tangerine juice (preferred) or orange juice
  • ¼ cup of Grand Marnier (original used brandy)
  • grated peel of 1 large navel orange, well washed
  • grated peel of ½ lime, well washed
  • grated peel of ½ lemon, well washed
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 ½ cups of golden raisins
  • 1 ½ cups of walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • ½ tablespoon of grated gum mastic
  • ½ tablespoon of freshly-ground star anise
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
  • ***
  • For the Glaze & Garnish
  • ***
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 walnut in the shell

Instructions

  1. Mix the yeast with ½ cup of warm water and ¼ οf flour, stir until dissolved.
  2. Cover with plastic membrane and clean napkins or even a small blanket and leave it to rest all evening.
  3. Next day, in a large mixing bowl, sift the salt with 2/3 of the remaining flour.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture, the warm water and wine.
  5. Mix until a soft dough forms, cover with plastic membrane and a damp towel, and set aside to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
  6. Punch the dough down and knead for several minutes until any air pockets are gone. Sift in the remaining flour, add the oil, tangerine juice, Grand Marnier, and grated citrus peels.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, raisins, walnuts, pine nuts, gum mastic, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cloves, and nutmeg until blended, and add to the dough.
  8. Knead well until the dough is firm and doesn’t stick (about 10-12 minutes), cover, and allow to rise for ½ hour.
  9. On a greased baking pan, shape the bread into two circular loaves, about 8 inches in diameter. Cover, and place in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in size.
  10. Pull out 2 big fistfuls of dough and divide into halves. Roll 2 long strips with each one of them and make a large cross with inward curled-split ends. Press the walnut in the shell into the center of the cross.
  11. Place a pan with at least 1 inch of water in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 375F. Place the bread in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the pan with the water, reduce heat to 325F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven, and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.
  13. Whisk the honey and lime juice, & brush on the loaves for the glaze. Sprinkle the sesame seeds.
  14. Wrap it up when completely cool. This bread will store for a couple of weeks and it tastes better as it matures.
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