This delicious Bavarian Christmas bread is a sweet bread machine recipe to bake for the holidays.
Is there anything more Christmasy than the smells of fresh baked goodies coming from the oven??
This is the time of year that our family pulls out the bread machine on a weekly basis. I love to have a bread baking all by itself in the bread machine while a pot of soup simmers on the stovetop or in the crockpot. Our house smells like heaven and all the work is done in advance for an easy dinner in the evening.
Growing up, my mom always had German stollen on the counter during Christmas season. Dried fruits and nuts in a glazed bread just makes me feel festive.
While this recipe isn't for a traditional stollen, it does have a lot of similar components. Bonus points for being essentially hands-off and perfect for beginner bakers.
Raisins, hazelnuts, a splash of cherry brandy/Kirsch, and warm spices make this bread perfect for a holiday brunch or sweet afternoon snack.
My kids begged me to make a little more of the powdered sugar glaze for slathering on the cut slices of bread, so for an extra-sweet treat, consider doubling the glaze recipe and serving it with a spreading knife at the table.
How to make an easy Bavarian Christmas bread in your bread machine:
Step 1: Find the right ingredients to mix into the bread
This recipe calls for simple raisins you likely already have in your pantry. However, during the holiday season, you'll find all kinds of fun dried fruits in the baking section of your grocery store. You can easily substitute dried craisins, cherries, or a mix of fruits as long as you don't exceed the ⅔ cup of raisins the recipe calls for.
Chopped hazelnuts are easy to find this time of year in the baking section as well. However, they can be a little pricey. If you prefer, you can also substitute chopped pecans or chopped walnuts as long as you don't exceed the ½ cup called for in the recipe.
Kirsch, a German cherry brandy, was the hardest ingredient for me to find. I had to go to a specialty liquor store to find it. The cherry flavor it brings to the Bavarian bread is fairly essential for this recipe to taste as festive as it does.
What can I use instead of Kirsch?
If you can't find Kirsch or prefer to not use liquor in your bread, one of these will work in this bread recipe:
- Cherry juice
- Cherry preserves
- Framboise (a raspberry brandy)
NOTE: If you worry about having a one-use ingredient in your pantry, you'll find that Kirsch is frequently called for in many cheese fondue recipes. Might be just the excuse you need to plan a fun dinner one weekend with the family.
Step 2: Bake the Christmas bread in your bread machine
Add the ingredients to your machine in the order they are listed in the recipe. Save the dried fruit and nuts for the kneading stage your machine recommends.
Several bread machine models will beep when it is time to add the mix-ins.
If your machine doesn't beep, usually you add the dried fruit and nuts after the second knead cycle. You'll just have to keep an eye on the machine as it works.
Use the 2-pound, Basic White setting to bake the bread.
When the bread is finished, remove it from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack while you make the glaze.
Step 3: Make the powdered sugar glaze for drizzling on top of the bread
I made our glaze extra thick and then placed it inside a plastic baggie. I snipped the corner of the bag so that I could pipe the pretty drizzle pattern over the top. This works best with a mostly cooled bread so that the glaze doesn't melt.
You can also choose to spread the glaze over the bread while it is still warm if you prefer a more totally frosted look. The glaze will melt and coat the bread and drizzle down the sides.
Alternatively, you can double the glaze recipe and simply serve it along side the bread with a small knife for people to "frost" their slices as a special treat.
- 1 cup milk
- ⅓ cup water
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- 2 tbsp kirsch (cherry brandy)
- 4 cups bread flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp pie spice (apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, or your favorite baking spice blend that features cinnamon)
- 1 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- ⅔ cup raisins
- ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
For the Glaze:
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 2-3 tsp milk
- Bread machines each have their own instructions, be sure to follow the method from your machine's manual for adding the ingredients.
- Typically, a bread machine will suggest you add the wet ingredients to the bread bowl first, followed by the dry ingredients. Layer the ingredients into the bowl in order of the list from milk through the pie spice. Make a small well in the top of the flour to place the dry yeast. Reserve the raisins and nuts for the moment.
- Select the 2-pound loaf size and the basic white bread cycle on your machine and press START.
- MIXING IN THE RAISINS AND NUTS: Add the reserved raisins and nuts during the mix-in portion of the cycle on your machine. If your bread machine doesn't have a bell to alert you to the mix-in step, wait until the dough has formed a solid ball and the machine is kneading the bread dough. This should happen before the first rise.
- NOTE: To ensure the fruit & nuts are evenly distributed throughout the bread, you may want to remove the dough ball and knead them even farther into the dough by hand for a few minutes. Then, return the dough to the machine to finish the baking process.
- The machine we tested this recipe on baked the bread in 3 hours, timing may vary by your machine.
- TO MAKE THE GLAZE: Add the powdered sugar and vanilla to a small bowl. Add just 2 teaspoons of milk to the bowl and begin to mix it together with a fork.
- For a decorative thick glaze: If you want to pipe pretty patterns on top of the bread, leave the glaze extra-thick. Transfer the thick glaze to a pastry bag with a frosting tip to decorate the top of the cooled bread loaf.
- For an all-over glaze: Add the third teaspoon of milk if you want an all-over glaze. Spread it over the top of the loaf while it is still slightly warm and it will drizzle down the sides.