Recipe: Tricolor Christmas Bread with Olive Oil

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This holiday bread is a festive mix flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and pesto, with each slice showing off a cross-section of colors.

The original recipe calls for this to make a single loaf, and if you have a big enough pan — and need a seven-pound loaf of bread — go for it. We’ve divided it into two loaves here, but dividing it into four loaves results in more manageable finished products that are suitable for sharing.


Makes two 3 1/2-pound loaves

TOMATO PASTE (makes 5 ounces)
1/4 cup whole sun-dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

4 ounces (3/4 cup) pitted kalamata olives
1 anchovy fillet
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 ounce (3 single packets) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
3 teaspoons kosher salt
10 1/2 cups flour, preferably bleached/all-purpose
3 teaspoons vegetable oil, for the work bowls

Flour, for the work surface
1 large egg, beaten
Kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

For the tomato paste: Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain. Transfer the softened tomatoes to a food processor or blender and add the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Puree until the mixture is smooth, about 15 seconds.

For the pesto: Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, pepper, salt, olive oil and cheese in a food processor or blender. Puree until the mixture is smooth, about 15 seconds.

For the tapenade: Combine the olives, anchovy, garlic, olive oil and pepper in a food processor or blender. Puree until the mixture is smooth, about 15 seconds.

For the dough: Combine one-third (1 packet) of the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 1 cup of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat at low speed until all the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium; beat until the mixture forms a ball, pulls away from the sides of the bowl and climbs up the dough hook.

Use a teaspoon of the oil to grease a work bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, using your hands to form the dough into a smooth ball before you put it in. Turn the dough over to coat it evenly with the oil, then cover with plastic wrap to rest in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Repeat the process with the tapenade, and again with the pesto, to create a total of 3 flavored doughs. Use the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to grease those two work bowls.

For assembly: Lightly flour a work surface. Line two large baking sheets (at least 15-by-17-inch) with parchment paper.

Remove each ball of dough from its bowl and invert it onto the work surface. Cut each one in half (for a total of 6 sections of dough). Working with one piece of each color of dough, roll and stretch the dough into a log that’s about 18 inches long. Repeat with the remaining doughs.
Line up 3 dough logs (one of each color) next to each other; pinch the ends of all three together. Begin braiding, overlapping each log one at a time over the other, then pinch together the other end. Tuck the pinched ends underneath the braided loaf. Place the bread on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining 3 dough logs to braid/form a second loaf. Cover each with plastic wrap to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees.

Use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of each loaf with the beaten egg, then generously sprinkle the salt and pepper on each loaf. Bake on the upper and lower racks for 20 to 25 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake until nicely browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

VARIATION: To make four smaller loaves, divide each flavor of dough into four equal pieces and braid as directed. Reduce baking time to 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

Adapted from “Emeril’s Creole Christmas,” by Emeril Lagasse and Marcelle Bienvenu (Morrow, 1997)
recipe from nhregister

Recipe: Tricolor Christmas Bread with Olive Oil, 4.3 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

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