With a sweet yeast dough and fruity filling, Krendl, a traditional Russian Christmas Bread, is a stunning, delicious holiday treat.
It’s time for the stollen, there’s a new bread in town.
Truthfully, I’ve never made a stollen, and it’s for the same reason I’m not fond of fruitcake. Candied fruit just doesn’t appeal to me. I love dried fruit, but the minute it’s steeped in sugar and turned into the candied variety, I’m heading in the other direction.
That’s why this Russian Krendl Bread from Country Woman appealed to me.
I liked the idea of a sweet bread that was stuffed with a compote of juice-simmered dried fruits. I figured it would easily serve as dessert on Christmas night and breakfast for several days after.
I was right.
I’m still not 100% confident when making yeast dough, but I do love a challenge, so it was fun to dive into this recipe. Luckily, Country Woman’s instructions are very well laid out and easy to understand. I appreciated the portions that gave me an idea of what to expect, like letting me know that the dough would be sticky initially (it was).
I did heat my half-and-half in the microwave, which worked well. It took my dough almost two hours to double in the warm place. Since my house is a little cool in winter, I turned on my oven for about 30 seconds, then turned it off and put the dough in it. It stayed warm enough to proof the dough without cooking it at all.
The filling consists of chopped apple and a variety of dried fruit (apples, apricots and plums). Honestly, buying all those individually seems excessive, I suggest buying a package of dried mixed fruits. It would work just as well.
What I didn’t realize was how long a 32″ x10″ rectangle was. I started rolling the dough on my biggest cutting board, but had to move over to the kitchen table as the rectangle grew. And it really does need to be 32″ long so the pretzel shape can be formed.
My bread was perfectly cooked at the 40-minute mark.
Here’s the awesome thing. Since I was taking the bread to my parents’ house and made it almost a week before heading there, wrapped it in parchment, then foil and froze it. It survived it’s cryogenic experience beautifully.
Score a big one for Country Woman. This was a huge hit with the entire family. How could it not be? The dough rose beautifully and was fluffy and lightly sweetened. The filling was delicious; sweet with a hint of tartness. Piece after piece, this thing disappeared, for breakfast, snack and dessert.
Is it a lot of work? Yeah, it is. But it is so, so worth it.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Krendl (Russian Christmas Bread) Recipe
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ cup warm half-and-half cream or whole milk (110° to 115°)
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
- ⅔ cup finely chopped dried apples
- ⅓ cup finely chopped dried apricots
- ⅓ cup chopped pitted dried plums
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Confectioners' sugar
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm cream. In a large bowl, combine softened butter, egg yolks, vanilla, salt, yeast mixture and 1-1/2 cups flour; beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
- Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- For filling, in a large saucepan, combine juice, apple, dried fruits, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 25-30 minutes or until mixture reaches a jam-like consistency, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl; cool completely.
- Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 32x10-in. rectangle. Melt remaining butter; brush over dough to within 1 in. of edges. Mix cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over top. Spread with fruit mixture. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam and ends to seal.
- Place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down; form into a pretzel shape. Cover with a kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°.
- Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving. Yield: 24 servings.