Christmas Spice Breads (Christopsomo and Kouloura)

These two sweet breads are eaten at Christmas in Greece. Zakynthian Christopsomo or Christmas bread has been compared to the Italian "panettone", which it also resembles in appearance.  The Ithacan kouloura is made of the same dough but in the shape of a large ring;

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1 kg flour
30 gfresh yeast or 1 tbs dried yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups  warm red wine
1 cup currants
1 cup  sultanas (raisins)
1 cup  walnuts, roughly chopped
peel of 1 orange, finely chopped
peel of 1 tangerine, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered cloves
1/2 tsp anise, optional

For the decoration
sesame seeds
whole walnuts, roughly chopped 
colored sprinkles, if available


Preheat oven at 180° C.

1.  Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.

2.  Put the yeast in a glass with the warm water and leave for a few minutes.

3.  Stir the yeast and water until the yeast melts and then pour it into the flour together with the warm wine. Mix and knead well.

4.  Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

5.  Bake for about 90 minutes.


It is in here that the cook places the lucky coin to be found on Christmas Eve.
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