Russian Christmas Bread (Krendel or Krendl) Recipe

Russian Krendel
Russian Krendel. © Olga on flickr
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 1 large Krendel (20 servings)
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This recipe for Russian Christmas bread or krendel / krendl produces a pretzel-shaped sweet yeast bread filled with dried fruits that is left plain or lightly iced or, alternatively, dusted with confectioners' sugar or sprinkled with coarse sugar before baking.

Some krendels are rolled as for a jellyroll and then coiled into a round shape without forming it into a pretzel. Yet others are simply rolled as for a jellyroll and baked as a cylinder without shaping.

While kulich and paska are traditional for Easter, krendel is the preferred Christmas bread. Here are more Eastern European Christmas bread recipes and here are Christmas bread recipes around the world.

What You'll Need

  • Dough:
  • 1 package1/4 ounce yeast (active dry)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk (warm)
  • 1/4 cup/1/2 stick butter (softened)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks (see the Note, below)
  • 3 cups flour (all-purpose, more or less)
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Fruit Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup prunes (pitted, chopped)
  • 1/3 cup pears (dried, chopped)
  • 2/3 cup apricots (dried, chopped)
  • 1 large apple (peeled, cored, and chopped)
  • 1 cup white wine (sweet, or white grape juice)
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup sugar (confectioners')
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or milk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract)
  • 2-3 teaspoons water (warm)

How to Make It

  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl or stand mixer, dissolve yeast in 3 tablespoons sugar and 3/4 cup warm milk. Add 1/4 cup butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, salt, egg yolks and 1 1/2 cups flour. Using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
     
  1. Meanwhile, to make the filling: In a large saucepan, bring butter, sugar, prunes, pears, apricots, fresh apple, dried pear, and wine or juice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes or until fruit is tender and mixture has thickened like jam, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.
     
  2. When dough has risen, punch it down. On a lightly floured surface or between sheets of parchment paper, roll into a 32-inch-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over butter. Spread cooled fruit filling to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up from the 32-inch side as for a jellyroll. Pinch seam together to seal. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Form into a pretzel shape or a coil. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
     
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. While the bread is baking, make the glaze by combining in a small bowl the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice or milk, vanilla or almond extract and enough water to make a smooth, runny glaze.
     
  4. Remove the krendel from oven let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. While still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over the top. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Note: Freeze the leftover egg whites or try one of these leftover egg white recipes.