“Christopsomo” in Greek means “+” and this is why the bread is decorated with a cross.
Christopsomo is considered very sacred in Greek households and is made with great care to ensure a blessed new year.
Greek Christmas bread is usually prepared the day before Christmas Eve and is served at the Christmas table. The householder cuts the pieces of the bread by hand, as it is said that no knife should be used.
Here is a traditional recipe for you to try from My Greek Dish.
For the Christopsomo
540 g lukewarm water (19 oz.)
16 g dry yeast (0.6 oz.)
40 g granulated sugar (1.5 oz.)
1 kg hard flour (35 oz.)
40 g honey (1.5 oz.)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp mahleb (ground)
1 tsp salt
20 g anise (1 oz.)
80 g walnuts, roughly chopped (3 oz.)
270 g all-purpose flour (9.5 oz.)
130 g water, at room temperature (4.5 oz.)
1 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of salt
1 walnut (whole)
1 egg and 2 tbsps water
2–3 handfuls sesame seed
To prepare this delicious Christopsomo recipe start by making the dough. In the mixer’s bowl add the water, yeast, and sugar and whisk to dissolve.
Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for about 10 minutes, until the yeast rises and starts bubbling. The water should not be hot, as it will kill the yeast, nor cold, as it will take forever for the Greek Christmas bread to rise. The water should be the same temperature as your finger. Check the temperature of the water by sticking one finger in. You should feel no difference in temperature.
Add the flour, honey, olive oil and mahleb. Using the dough hook mix at first at low speed, until the ingredients start to combine and then mix at medium speed for about 5-10 minutes until the dough doesn’t stick on the sides of the bowl.
Add the anise, walnuts, and salt and beat for 1 more minute, until combined.
Coat lightly the dough with olive oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour, until it doubles its size.
Now prepare the dough for the decoration of Christopsomo, add the water, olive oil, flour and salt in the mixer’s bowl. Mix using the dough hook, until the dough is smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes to rest.
For the Christopsomo, deflate the dough lightly with your fingers and shape into a round loaf. Butter a round baking pan (28-30 cm) and line with parchment paper. Transfer the dough into the baking pan and spread lightly. Brush the top lightly with some beaten egg and water.
Remove the plastic wrap from the decorating dough and cut it into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a long rope. Then form 2 braids. Place the 2 braids over the Christopsomo and shape a cross. Place the whole walnut in the center. Cover the dough with a towel and wait for the dough to rise for 1 hour. (see also the preparation photos below)
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F Fan and bake for 50 minutes, until the Christopsomo is nicely coloured and cooked through.