Christmas Tree Bread with Fresh Herbs and Feta
This Christmas tree bread would be a great centerpiece on your festive table. It is not only beautiful, but it is also super delicious. It is stuffed with fresh herbs, butter and feta. You can pull apart the soft and flaky bread and eat it as it. It will also go well with your favorite dips. I would serve it with my roasted pepper dip or with hummus. This yummy bread would go so well with a charcuterie board.
Baking during the Holiday season is such joy for me. It warms up the house and creates the coziest feeling. The aroma from bread baking is mouthwatering. Especially when there is butter and herbs in the dough.
Helpful Tips About Making The Dough
How to measure flour? Always scoop more flour than you need in your cup and use a knife to level it off. If you have a scale, use it, because measuring ingredients by weigh is always more accurate. One cup of flour contains exactly 4 oz or 120 grams of all-purpose flour.
When you make the dough, you might need more or less flour. It depends on the type and the brand of flour that you use. I recommend using bread flour for this recipe since it is higher on gluten.
It is very important to add the flour gradually until you have soft and stretchy dough. If it is sticking to your hands and you cannot form it to a ball, then you need more flour.
Helpful Tips About Making The Christmas tree bread
If you don’t want to make the dough you can use store bought pizza dough for this recipe. I think that homemade is always better ant it is worth the extra time and effort.
Use slightly warm milk for the dough. I warm mine in the microwave for a minute before I add it to the rest of the ingredients. This will help with yeast activation and proofing.
I use two eggs for this recipe. I separate one egg and I use the egg yolk for egg wash. Then I add one whole egg and one egg white to the dough.
Keep the salt away from the yeast! I always add the salt after I added at least one cup of flour. I never sprinkle salt directly over the yeast. This is very important because salt kills yeast, which can stop the fermentation process and the dough won’t rise.
You can use whatever fresh of dry herbs you have and love. I had some fresh parsley and chives in my garden and that is what I added to the bread.
I prefer to use cow feta in brine. This is my favorite type of feta because it is creamy and milder in taste. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find. I buy it from an international store, or I order it online. You can use whatever feta you have and like. I don’t recommend using feta that is already crumbled, because it has additives and anti-caking agents.
Proofing and Baking the Christmas Tree Bread
In this recipe you need to proof the dough two times. The first time is after you make the dough. I usually proof for 45 to 60 minutes directly in the mixing bowl. I cover the bowl with a towel or a plastic wrap.
The second proof is after you shape the bread. You can proof the dough in the oven or outside. When I proof in the oven, I start to preheat it until it reaches 110F and then turn it off. I place the shaped dough inside and keep the door closed for 30 minutes. This will keep it away from drafts and keep the temperature constant. If you decide to proof outside of the oven, keep the dough in a warm place. Cover it with a clean towel or plastic wrap.
Baking time might be different depending on the oven or altitude. I usually check my bread after 20 minutes of baking. This bread takes about 30 minutes to be ready.
Measuring spoons and cups are essential for any baking recipe.
You can use a stand mixer like this one, or knead the dough by hand.
You are going to need a rolling pin for this recipe. If you don’t have one you can use a glass bottle.
I use a silicon brush to add egg wash on top of the shaped dough.
I use a large baking sheet to bake this bread.
You also need oven mitts to protect your hands from the high temperatures and the hot oven.
Finally, you are going to need some cooling racks to prevent the bread from soggy bottom after baking.
Store leftovers in a ziplock bag or a box with a lid in the fridge for 2-3 days. This bread has feta in it that is why it needs to be refrigerated. Use an oven, microwave or toaster oven to preheat it before serving.
Please note: these links are not affiliated with anyone. These are just products that I have, use and love. Using the links will not benefit me in any way.
Christmas Tree Bread with Fresh Herbs and Feta
- ½ cup milk lukewarm
- ½ cup water lukewarm
- ¼ cup Plain or Greek yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 3-4 cups flour or as much as you need to make a dough
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup fresh chopped herbs I used parsley and chives
- 4 oz feta
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
To prepare the dough
- Take the butter for the filling out of the fridge. It needs time to soften.
- Crack one egg open and separate the egg yolk from the egg white. Put the egg white in the bowl of the stand mixer and the egg yolk in a small bowl.
- Add a tablespoon of milk to the egg yolk in the small bowl and stir it well. Cover and set aside. This will be your egg wash.
- Break and add the other egg into the mixer bowl.
- To the mixer bowl add the milk, yogurt, water, sugar, yeast, two cups of flour and the salt. Start mixing on the lowest possible speed until you have a wet dough.
- Gradually add the rest of the flour(one cup at a time) and continue mixing until you have a soft and stretchy dough.
- Once all the flour is incorporated and you have dough that doesn’t stick to the sides increase the speed of mixing and knead for at least 5 minutes.
- Remove the dough attachment and cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and leave it for an hour to proof.
To shape the bread
- Once the dough is double in size, transfer it on a floured surface and cut in two.
- Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle (about 10 x 15"). Spread the softened butter on top of one rectangle. Chop the fresh herbs finely and spread them on top of the butter. Then add the crumbled feta and cover with the other dough (rolled to rectangle) Press it down to take the air out and connect the edges of the top and bottom rectangle.
- Use a knife to cut 5-6 long strips from the rectangle (about an inch wide) Then twist them like a rope. Cut the ropes you cleated to the length you need to make the Christmas tree.
- Line a large baking sheet (21"L x 15"W x 1"H) with parchment paper.
- On the baking sheet place a small twisted rope of dough for the trunk of the tree. Then add the first layer of branches by placing a long dough rope perpendicular to the trunk of the tree. The next layer of branches have to be shorter. Continue adding twisted dough ropes until you have the shape of a Christmas tree.
- Whisk the egg yolk with the milk you kept for the egg wash. Use a food safe brush to spread the egg wash on top of the bread.
- Proof the shaped dough for 30 minutes in a warm place. I proof it in the oven at 110F (read blog post for more information).
- After the last proof bake the bread at 355F for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown.
- After baking remove the bread on cooling rack to cool it off slightly. Serve while still warm.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator.