Christopsomo

A Greek Christmas tradition, Christopsomo translates as "bread of Christ." Some families decorate the bread with a cross or "X." The letter "X" is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ and was used as an early abbreviation. Hence "Xmas."

  • Yield: Makes two 9-inch loaves
Christopsomo

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2009

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
  • 8 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for surface and more if needed
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 2 teaspoons ground anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground mastic gum (optional; parthenonfoods.com)
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for bowl
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon whole milk, for egg wash
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Sprinkle yeast, 1 cup flour, and 1/4 cup sugar over milk in a medium bowl. Cover, and let stand for 1 hour.

  2. Combine remaining 7 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar, the anise seeds, salt, orange zest, and mastic gum if desired. Make a well in center of mixture, and add milk mixture, melted butter, and eggs. Mix together ingredients using your hands. Once combined, turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth and supple, about 15 minutes.

  3. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  4. Butter two 9-inch springform pans. Punch down dough, divide in half, and roll each half into a 24-inch-long log. Coil each log into a mounded circle (similar to a snail shell). Transfer each to a prepared pan. Cover with plastic, and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush egg wash over tops of loaves, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pans, and remove bread. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Cook's Note

Mastic gum, also called mastiha, is the dried resin of a Mediterranean tree. Grind it on a microplane zester or in a spice grinder. Christopsomo can be stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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