Our Editorial Advisory Board gets into the holiday spirit with their family traditions.
At the root of so many holiday celebrations stands tradition—and every tradition has to start somewhere. Year after year, you may decorate the Christmas tree with age-old ornaments; bake the same cookie recipes that your grandmother used to bake; sing holiday songs that have been sung for generations. New traditions are always welcomed, too, and can be thrown into the rotation next year.
The Woodbury Magazine editor and Editorial Advisory Board members are no exception. We all have our beloved memories, and they’ve let us in on their favorite traditional breads that are served around the table each year.
Christmas Tree Bread
Recipe courtesy of Hailey Almsted, editor
“The holiday season is, perhaps, my favorite time of the year. One of my most treasured holiday traditions and fondest memories growing up is the start of the Christmas Advent calendar on December 1. (Yes—I still treat myself to an Advent calendar each year!) A new tradition that I’ve started is baking Christmas Tree Bread. Although I don’t have hosting duties, I enjoy bringing Christmas Tree Bread to family celebrations—almost as much as my family members enjoy eating it up! This cheesy appetizer is best served warm and is usually enjoyed in a matter
of minutes.” —Hailey Almsted
- 13.8 oz. package Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust
- 16 oz. cream cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2.5 oz. organic spinach
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- pepper and salt, to taste
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. parsley
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For filling: Over medium-high heat, combine olive oil and garlic; add spinach until wilted. Mix in cream cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, salt and pepper until everything is well combined and melted. Remove from heat. Roll out pizza crust until flat, slice from bottom left edge to top middle and from bottom right edge to top middle, forming three even triangles. Press together the two outer triangles to form one triangle—make sure it’s the same size as the large one. Lay it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread filling on bottom triangle, sprinkle more cheese on top of filling and top with remaining triangle crust. Slice both sides of the tree into small strips; twist each strip three or four times. Bake for 20 minutes. While baking, melt butter; add parsley and garlic powder to butter until well combined. Once finished baking, brush with garlic butter and enjoy.
Fruit Cake/Christmas Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Margaret Wachholz, Editorial Advisory Board member
“It’s a time of year I enjoy remembering people through food, and I crack out the family recipe that distinguishes our holiday season. This is a living tradition, and it requires tending—tending to the aromas and tastes, which have created so many memories and conversations with family and a wee bit of grand indulgence. [It’s] the making of the Fruit Cake/Christmas Pudding.” —Margaret Wachholz
- 6 oz. self-rising flour
- 1 tsp. mixed spice
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 8 oz. white breadcrumbs
- 12 oz. dark brown sugar
- 1 lb. currants
- 8 oz. raisins
- 8 oz. sultanas, also known as golden raisins
- 4 oz. mixed dried fruit
- 4 oz. cherries, halved
- 2 oz. almonds, blanched and chopped
- finely grated rind of 1 orange
- finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- 8 oz. margarine, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp. brandy, rum or whiskey
- 1/2 pint Guinness
- hot custard, whipping cream, brandy and orange sauce, or whiskey and spice sauce, to serve
To prepare: Prepare two greased 2-pint pudding bowls. Cut large circle of parchment paper for the tops, and grease well. Make pleats crosswise in the paper. Cut a large circle of foil for each bowl, and make pleats similar to the parchment paper.
To make pudding: Sieve the flour and spices into the large mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, sugar, prepared fruits, nuts, lemon and orange rinds, and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the center, and pour in the melted margarine, eggs, rum or whiskey and Guinness. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Cover, and leave in the refrigerator overnight. Mix well again before filling the pudding bowls. Place the mixture into the prepared bowls. Cover tightly with the parchment paper, and tie down securely, under the rim of the bowl. Cover with foil, and tie down again. Put a loop of string over the top to facilitate removing pudding when cooked. Place the pudding in a steamer 2/3 full of boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and steam or boil for six hours. Keep the pressure of steam up all the time, and keep topping with boiling water. When the pudding/cakes are ready, remove carefully from the saucepan or steamer. Allow to cool completely. When cool, remove damp papers and recover with fresh parchment paper, and store in a cool, dry place. On Christmas Day, recover with greased parchment paper and foil, and steam for another two hours. Serve with one of the suggested sauces, such as hot custard or whipping cream.
Kaffe Brød (similar to Swedish Coffee Bread) Recipe courtesy of Marni Kanne, Editorial Advisory Board member
“My grandmother, Lois, would make loaves and loaves of this every year and gift it to family and friends. It’s not quite Christmas without it. She isn’t physically able to make this bread anymore but has passed the tradition on to a few of her grandchildren. She turned 100 this past January.” —Marni Kanne
- 2 lbs., 4 oz. unbleached flour, plus some for the board later
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp. yeast
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup candied citron
- 1/4 cup candied red cherries
- 1/4 cup candied green cherries
- 3/4 cup slivered almonds
To prepare: On low heat, melt butter while measuring other ingredients. Weigh 2 lbs., 4 oz. of unbleached flour into a container. Add milk and water to butter; heat until warm. In a mixer bowl, place about 3 cups of flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. yeast and cardamom. Add the warmed butter/milk mixture. Mix well, and beat about 4 minutes at medium speed. Add eggs and 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour, and beat well for at least two minutes. Add fruit and almonds, and mix in well. Change to dough hook. Add remainder of flour. On lowest speed, mix in well, and knead until dough sheets well. Put into a sprayed bowl for rising. When double in bulk, knead down. Let rise second time until double in bulk.
To make loaves: Place dough on floured board and knead air out. Divide dough. Approximately 1 lb., 6 oz. per three large loaf pans. Flatten each piece to slightly longer and wider than the pan. Cut the dough lengthwise into 3 equal pieces and braid. Place into sprayed pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and more slivered almonds. Let rise until doubled. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cover with foil, bake an additional 20 minutes. Cool on rack. Enjoy.