Braided Almond Bread :: A Christmas Tradition

I met my husband over a decade ago and there are so many things that stand out in my mind about that special time. I have always been quite the sentimental soul, and so it was a delight to spent time getting to know him, as well as his amazing family, hearing about all the different traditions he grew up with.

One of the most special traditions I soon learned was his Mom's secret recipe for Braided Almond Bread. Made only at Christmas-time, loaf after loaf of this incredible pastry was passed out to loved ones and neighbors and enjoyed with their family over Christmas breakfast each year. The first time I sampled it myself, my sweet husband along with his brother got a hold of the recipe and made a huge braided heart version for me for our first valentines day as a couple. I knew this bread was something special. Something to evoke that strong sense of love and affection. I have enjoyed this almond bread every single Christmas morning since and I can tell you it truly does make our family Christmas complete.

This past week my dear Mother in law, Paula, generously offered up her secrets and I had the great honor of spending an afternoon in her kitchen making almond bread for the first time. I also learned a bit more about her heart through the simple act of loving her family through this tradition that she started over thirty years ago.

The dough is made ahead of time and left to rest in the refrigerator over night (or two) before rolling it out and baking. Paula has learned through trial and error many tips over the years. She almost always makes a double batch and when rolling the dough out leaves any remaining in the fridge to stay cool. The longer you work the pastry the harder it will be to braid effectively later.

When you're ready to bake, roll the dough into roughly a 10"x16" rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread evenly half of the can of almond filling leaving a small edge, sprinkle generously with brown sugar then cinnamon and lastly the chopped walnuts.

Roll the pastry into a long tube and carefully pull the edge up and around and finish by turning the roll so the seam is underneath. Slice in half lengthwise and pinch the top end together.

Braid the bread working quickly top over bottom and then transfer to a generously greased cookie sheet. The greased cookie sheet is a real key to keeping the almond filling from sticking badly to the sheet. Bake at 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until a soft golden brown.

Remove from oven and slide off of sheet immediately onto a cutting board to cool. At this point you can cut it into serving size slices or package however you choose. Paula has found that this bread freezes wonderfully so after slicing she likes to slide the bread onto a well greased piece of tinfoil and wrap it tightly before transferring to the freezer. It can then easily be reheated in a warm oven when ready to serve.

My prayer as a young Mother would be that I too would be able to foster these sorts of family traditions in my own home. Thank you Paula for taking the time to pass on this heritage to me it was truly a blessing to be loved so well in your kitchen this week! And I know I speak for all of your kids young and old we love enjoying this bread each year on Christmas morning it's such a special tradition!!

May you all have a wonderful Christmas soaking in the warmth of all the season has to offer. And thank you all for your continual love and kindness as I share my heart in this space. I am so deeply blessed by you!

Paula's Braided Almond Bread 

1 pkg. yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 C. warm water

1/4 C.   Milk (room temp)                          
1           Egg (room temp.)                     
1/2 C.   Butter (1 cube...soft/room temp.)                              
2 C.      Bread Flour  
Almond Filling  (SOLO brand in can)
Brown Sugar   
Chopped Walnuts


1.  Mix yeast into warm water in mixing bowl.
2.  Add milk, egg, butter and flour.
3.  Using  bread hook, knead until dough cleans bowl. 
4.  Refrigerate overnight in covered bowl.
5.  Roll out on lightly floured surface to approx. 1/4 inch thick rectangle.
6.  Spread with 1/2 can of almond filling (not paste), sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, then chopped walnuts to cover in proportions that you choose.  
7.   Roll lengthwise so you have a long narrow roll...then place the end of roll on the work surface...and cut roll in 1/2 lengthwise so you have two long sections that reveal the fillings.
8.  Starting at the top...pinch the ends together and then braid the 2 sections together.
9.  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Bake 350 degrees...35-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean from center of braid.
10. When you remove from oven, quickly slide bread onto a cutting board and slice into serving pieces and then onto serving dish. Clean pan while warm before the filling hardens and is hard to remove.

      HINT:  If you want to serve the bread freezes great.  Spray generously sized piece of heavy aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Then slide sliced almond bread onto it to cool.  When completely cooled, fold foil over the top and bottom of bread and then bring up sides of foil and fold them down the center of bread.  This way, when filling will spill into your oven...and cause a mess.  At this point you can freeze or hold over until the next morning.  Reheat until bread is warm.


  1. so, so wonderful! and truly, what a gift for paula to share this special recipe. beautiful photos and reflections, rebekah. we are without a doubt so very blessed. can't wait to celebrate christmas with you and our gough family! xoxo

  2. This looks so beautiful. I bet it tastes just as good!

  3. the universe needed this recipe shared! i love enjoying this yummy treat too, especially since i'm such a huge almond fan. i also love that my husband is the one that makes it in this house...he's a mama's boy!

    can't wait to eat it together!

  4. GASP. The almond bread recipe. So excited to try this recipe, we Dutchies love anything almond and I've been drooling over this bread ever since Jenny posted about it a few years ago! :)

  5. This looks positively scrumptious. I will have to give it a try.

    Merry Christmas!


  6. Looks to die for and pretty easy!!! Two of my favorite things, DOUGH AND ALMOND :0

  7. Your bread looks delicious. What is in the can of almond filling? I'm not aware of a product like this in the UK.


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