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Tear & Share Christmas Tree Bread

Spiced fruit buns decorated with snowy icing and glacé  cherries. This Share & Tear Christmas Tree Bread makes a great centrepiece for any festive table. Easy to make, easy to decorate - so a great recipe to make with kids.
5 from 11 votes
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Course: Christmas Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 22 buns
Author: Sarah James
buns

Equipment

  • 1 large baking tray lined with baking parchment

Ingredients


Sweet Bread Dough:

  • 600 g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 75 g softened butter or sunflower margarine
  • 350 ml buttermilk or half milk and half natural yoghurt
  • 110 g dried mixed fruit
  • 2 tablespoons chopped marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon Christmas Spice or mixed spice


Icing:

  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons boiling water


Decoration:

  • Approx 20 glacé  cherries or your choice of decoration

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C Fan / 180°C / Gas Mark 6

    Make the bread dough:

    • Warm the buttermilk (or milk and yoghurt mixture) for 1 minute in a microwave on full power. The liquid temperature needs to be tepid to warm so as to encourage the yeast to start working – too much heat will kill the yeast. Gently warm liquid in a saucepan if you don’t have a microwave.

    If mixing and kneading your dough by hand:

    • Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl, stirring them together until they form a ball.
    • Knead by hand for 10 to 12 minutes.

    If mixing and kneading your dough using a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook:

    • Add the dough ingredients into your mixer bowl.
    • Mix on slow speed number 1 for approximately 1 to 2 minutes then on speed number 2 for 8 to 10 minutes.
    • Your dough should be lovely and smooth and elastic.
    • Place your dough in a large greased mixing bowl and cover.
    • Leave to rest in a warm place for at least one and a half hours or until doubled in size.
    • Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 22 portions of approximately 55g to 60g each.
    • Shape 21 portions into balls and the last piece into an oblong for the tree trunk.
    • Place the dough balls onto the baking tray in the shape of the Christmas tree – see photos – with 6 dough balls on the first row and the tree trunk underneath at the centre.
    • Continue with 5 dough balls on the second and so on until you have a single dough ball at the top.
    • Leave no more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) between each dough ball and when risen they will touch each other, which maintains the Christmas tree shape.
    • Cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until well risen.
    • Bake in the oven the 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

    Make your icing:

    • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of boiling water and mix. You want the icing to be quite thick and not too runny so you can get the snow effect.
    • You may need to add a touch more water but add a drop at a time.
    • Let your bread cool for about 10 minutes (it still wants to be warm) before you add the icing.
    • Prop up your cooling rack on one end so that the icing can drip a little.
    • Place about a teaspoonful of icing on the top of each bread ball and spread it to cover the tops.
    • Place the cherries on your Christmas tree bread and leave to set.

    Notes

    Preparation time does not include dough resting times.
    How to freeze Christmas Tree Bread:
    It's best to freeze the Tear & Share Christmas Tree Bread unadorned.
    It's a great way to get ahead with your baking. Christmas time can be so hectic so having a ready baked Christmas Tree Bread in your freezer is really handy. Decorating it takes no time at all.
    Simply defrost at room temperature and pop in the oven for 10 minutes at 400°F / 200°C Fan / 180°C / Gas Mark 6. This warms it through just enough to make the icing easier as well as freshening the bread.
    How to store Christmas Tree Bread:
    Fresh is best but on the other hand Christmas Tree Bread will keep for 2 to 3 days stored in an airtight container.