Holiday Bread Wreath!

I enjoy creating new dishes especially when the holidays come around.  The old tried and true are wonderful but every so often you need to break out of your comfort zone and try something different. 

When I saw this post on Sara Kate’s blog I knew I had to try some version of this Holiday Bread Wreath.  I’ve never been much of a bread baker and as I’m getting older I find I shy away from eating bread altogether because of the carbs and calories.  All that flew out the window when I laid my eyes on this spectacular loaf of swirling bread.

Much to my surprise it wasn’t difficult at all.  In fact it was easy and turned out tasting delicious!  My husband thought it was pretty but didn’t want to indulge so I decided to share it with my mom and sister.  When I unveiled my creation they were all oohs and ahhs, just what I’d hoped.  We all dug in, had a slice and loved it.  The rest was left for my mom to share with her friends who would be stopping by later.

This beautiful Holiday Bread Wreath would be a lovely gift to give someone or perfect served on Christmas morning.  Warm and cozy with some coffee, tea or hot cocoa.

The recipe below comes from the December 1978 issue of Sunset Magazine.  However, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan made some changes to it and I made some changes to her recipe. 

Below is my step by step version and this is Sara Kate’s of The Kitchn:

Holiday Bread Wreath with Cranberry-Pistachio Filling
adapted from Sunset Magazine, December 1978
makes about 12 servings

1 packet (1/4oz) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (about 110° F)
1/2 cup warm milk (about 110° F)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Cranberry-Pistachio Filling:

3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries, soaked in 1/2 cup Calvados (I used) or other liqueur
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon orange extract

For the Sugar Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder


In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for a minute or two. (looks like fireworks going off in the water)

Blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, cardamom, eggs and orange zest.

Stir in two cups of the flour, one cup at a time. Beat for 2 minutes. (I used my stand mixer) Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough. (dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl)

Note: You might not use all the flour.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour if needed to prevent sticking. (You know it’s ready when dough becomes smooth, shiny and if you poke the dough it springs back)

Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl (I spray with non-stick spray) large enough to accommodate dough when doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

Meanwhile, prepare the Cranberry-Pistachio Filling:

Drain the dried fruit of its liqueur and reserve for another use. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

When dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading just enough to release any air bubbles.

Roll the dough into a 9- by 30-inch rectangle.

Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. (forgot to take photo but can view Sara Kate’s photos for reference) Starting along a long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal.

With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise, carefully turn cut sides up,

and loosely twist ropes around each other, keeping cut sides up. (An extra set of hands would have been nice here)

Carefully transfer the wreath to a greased and floured baking sheet (I used Pam Baking Spray) and shape into a wreath, pinching ends together to seal.

Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake wreath until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

While wreath is baking, Prepare Sugar Glaze by stirring together ingredients until smooth.

When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack with wide spatulas or a pizza peel.

Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze over the warm wreath. Serve sliced with extra butter if you’re feeling decadent.

The wreath can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time, cooled completely and wrapped tightly in foil.

Store at room temperature then re-heat at 350° for 10-15 minutes, drizzling the glaze just before serving.

Note: Next time I’m planning to make this using chocolate chips, coconut, and macadamia nuts.  In place of the milk I’ll use coconut milk and vanilla or coconut extract.

This bread can be adapted to use any type of dried fruit and ingredients you like.  I think even adding cream cheese to the filling would be sensational.  Be creative and don’t be afraid to experiment.   Afterall, that’s the fun part of cooking!


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  1. Big drool… I love bread and I mean I really love good bread. Your bread wreath is awesome Vicki! Pistachio and cranberry sounds fantastic and the final touch with the glaze on top… never stopped drooling over your bread. LOVE this post and enjoyed reading it. It’s amazing that dough can become so long!

  2. Hi Nami, I hope you are enjoying your vacation. Thank you for your kind words. I had planned to make cranberry pistachio biscotti and then came across this recipe and knew I had to try it. Surprisingly it was so simple. I impressed myself with the finished product.

    Maya from Foodiva’s Kitchen just posted one as well that looks fantastic – similar to this but carved out differently. Check it out!

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Wow this looks so good – full of wonderful Holiday flavors
    mary oxo

  4. Long live wreath bread! That’s what I say, Vicki, and your version looks so gorgeous that I’m now dying to try THIS! The pistachios and cranberries definitely give this bread a festive flavor…now all you’re really missing is the chocolate ;).

    Thanks so much for dropping by at mine and leaving your lovely words and wishes. I feel blessed to have gotten to know you this year, and I have nothing but the best wishes for you and your family over the holiday season. Happy Christmas and New Year, Vicki!


  5. Brovo! Bravo!! You say your not much of a bread maker but this is not true! This looks wonderful enough to have come out of a fancy bakery! YUM!

  6. This looks so delicious and stunning! Love the filling ingredients….I have done the cut thing with coffee cake dough, but mine was not as picture perfect as yours. You have more talent than you give yourself credit for.
    If I did the process again I think I would be more meticulous about getting the dough an even thickness and have an extra sharp knife on hand.
    Have a wonderful holiday season Vicki!

  7. Looks great and sounds delicious. Perfect for the holidays! Hard to resist all the wonderful baked things at this time of the year! Thanks for this.

  8. Maya thank you for your comments. I too feel fortunate to have met you and to have made such a nice friend. My next bread baking adventure will be you Happy Bread Nd thanks to your fantastic videos I’ve now uploaded some new songs on my iPod. Happy, healthy holidays and wishing you and your family a prosperous new year!

    Cafe Sucre Farine you are so sweet. Thank you for your comments. It was fun making it.

    Tina and Kitchen Riffs, thank you for your ok d words as well. I too will be more careful next time to be sure my braiding is more even. Such a fun project that’s pretty, delicious and great for the holidays. Happy Holidays!

  9. Wow, this is stunning, Vicki! My hubby would pass on it, too, but I’d be happy to eat his share!

  10. This looks great but nothing else expected your always A grade no matter what…. I sure hope you have a blessed holiday and as always thanks for being the best supporter a blogger could ever ask for.. truly I appreciate you.. Buon Natale to you and yours

  11. Gorgeous bread. Look worth every carb and calorie. 😉

  12. Lizzy I have definitely had my share of carbs lately. I can feel my waistband on my pants. Ugh!

    Claudia you just made my holidays. What a nice thing to say. Thank you so much. You too are faithful blogger on my site and post fantastic recipes on yours. Thank you again for your king words.

    Carolyn it was worth the carbs and calories even if I do feel like a blimp right now.

    Happy Holidays to all!

  13. I love homemade bread eating and baking it. This one looks perfect. It would be a lovely gift to give to somebody.

  14. This is a stunning loaf! Thank you so much for sharing and you’re right – it would be a stunning gift!

  15. Just beautiful Vicki! The cranberries and pistachios give it such a pretty color!

  16. Simply stunning! Normally, I’m not too fussed about not being a baker but this is so perfect for the holidays! I wish I could make it!

  17. That’s a beauty! I love homemade bread and your bread wreath is wonderful Vicki! Loving the holiday flavours.

  18. wow that looks so beautiful!!!

  19. I am with you Vicky on trying something new and not that the old ones are not good. Sure this is simply amazing and tempting for me.

  20. Such a pretty wreath! It turned out beautifully.

  21. What a beautiful holiday bread, I have not seen anything like this…very lovely!

  22. wow! i would love to have the bread for christmas!

  23. I’m sorry I didn’t try this recipe at Christmas but not to late for New Years! Looks ever so amazing and I wish I had a slice for my breakfast right now- I’ll just have to be happy with cereal;-)

  24. It looks lovely, I think I’m going to try it when Easter comes. It looks like some Greek traditional sweet breads that we make at Easter but it looks even better!

  25. Thank you everyone for your comments. I must have been vacationing when most of these came through. This wreath was a huge hit with my family and without question I will make it again. It was fun and easy to make but most of all delicious!

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