Food from the World:Christopsomo

Let me tell you something I found out today: apparently, next week it’s Christmas! I can’t believe how fast time flies and how another year is so close to its ending. Christmas is the perfect time to be jolly, to have more compassion towards other people and to bake cookies waiting for Santa. In some countries, next to cookies Santa also likes to eat other types of sweets, like the Christopsomo.

Say what? Greek gourmands surely know what I am talking about. But let’s make it clear for those who have no clue what this cryptic word means. Christopsomo is a type of sweet bread, also known as ‘Christ’s Bread’ and it is usually baked on Christmas Eve. But it is eaten for dinner on Christmas Day.

What do you know about Christopsomo?

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This bread is normally decorated according to the traditions and the customs of each family. For instance, if the head of the family is a fisherman, then the Christopsomo will be decorated with the symbol of a fish. But the fish is not the only symbol that can be placed on the bread. Together with this the women baking the bread can also put flowers, sheep, farm tools or the cross or the letter X (the beginning letter of the word ‘Christ’).

The bread can include all type of nuts, dried fruit, sesame seeds, honey or spices. It is usually broken by the male head of the household and kept by the families near icons or brought to church as an offering.

Tradition also says that when the bread is broken, if the piece from the right hand is larger, then the year that is to come will be a good one. If not, then next year will be difficult and challenging.

Christopsomo Recipe

1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour (for the starter)
8 to 10 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup olive oil
1 cup warm water
½ cup ouzo
1½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1½ cups coarsely chopped raisins

How to prepare?

1. The first step is the starter. You have to dissolve the teaspoon of dry yeast into a half cup of warm water, mixing it well to combine it. Let it rest approximately 10 minutes until it gets creamy. Next, add another half of cup of water and stir the 3 cups of flour. Mix everything until you get a dough mass. Cover everything with a plastic wrap and let it rest for 24-48 hours.

2. Move on to the bread dough. For this you have to combine the flour, salt and sugar in a big bowl. Add the olive oil and mix everything until it gets moist. Scoop a little hole in the center and add there the warm water, the ouzo, the raisins and the nuts. Add little pieces of starter in the hole and mix everything with a wooden spoon. Knead everything until the dough becomes soft. Afterwards you can cover it with a towel and let it rest for 3 hours.

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3. Shape the dough into 2 balls and work them with your hands. Place them in round pans, decorating with walnuts in the form of a cross. Let the dough rise for about an hour.

4. Put this into the preheated oven (400F). Let it bake there for almost 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, let it cool on a rack and serve. It is delicious!

Although it’s one week away: Merry Christmas! Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

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