Aunt Judy's Christmas Bread

Aunt Judy's Christmas Bread

A braided yeast bread filled with almond, pastry cream, and walnut fillings. This is a recipe that my aunt used to make every year for Christmas morning when the entire family would gather at her house. Now I make it for my family. It takes awhile to make and uses an insane amount of dishes, but it's worth it. So delicious!
  • Preparation:
  • Cooking:
  • Total:
  • Serves: 2 persons



  1. Step 1

    Mix water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon sugar together in a small bowl until yeast is raised and bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Step 2

    Cream butter and 1 cup sugar together in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Pour in warm milk and add yeast mixture, eggs, and salt; mix together. Mix in flour until just incorporated; do not knead dough.
  3. Step 3

    Move dough to a large bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and let rise for another 45 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    While dough is rising, heat milk for pastry filling in a medium saucepan until warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in 3 tablespoons flour gradually. Beat egg yolk in a separate bowl and add a little of the warm milk mixture to temper it; whisk yolk mixture into milk mixture. Mix in sugar and salt. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
  5. Step 5

    Let cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Cover the top with plastic wrap, touching the filling, to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Step 6

    Meanwhile, make almond filling by mixing butter, sugar, and almond extract together in a bowl until blended. Set aside.
  7. Step 7

    Make nut crumb filling by crumbling flour, sugar, walnuts, and butter together in a bowl. Set aside.
  8. Step 8

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  9. Step 9

    Divide the dough and fillings in 1/2 for 2 loaves. Set aside a small amount of nut filling to sprinkle on top of loaves.
  10. Step 10

    Roll out 1/2 of the dough onto 1 of the prepared pans into a rectangle that fills the pan. Spread cream filling lengthwise down the middle 1/3 of the dough, leaving about 1 inch free on each short end. Sprinkle almond filling on top of cream, followed by nut crumb filling.
  11. Step 11

    Make diagonal cuts into the dough on either side of the filling down each side, about 2 inches apart; don't cut too close to filling or it will leak out. Fold dough strips across the top of the filling, alternating each side, to make a braid. Tuck the 2 short ends into the braid to prevent leaking. Brush with reserved egg white and sprinkle with 1/2 of the reserved nut crumb filling. Repeat for second loaf.
  12. Step 12

    Bake loaves in the preheated oven until golden, 20 to 30 minutes.
  13. Step 13

    Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve.