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!

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Additional Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
2 loaves



  • ½ cup warm water

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

  • 1 cup cold butter

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 2 cups warm milk

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

Danish Pastry Filling:

  • 1 cup milk

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 egg, separated

  • cup white sugar

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Almond Filling:

  • ½ cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Nut Crumb Filling:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • ½ cup butter, softened


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

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

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

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

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

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

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

376 Calories
17g Fat
51g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 28
Calories 376
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 236mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 18%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 26g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 47mg 4%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 113mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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